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January is National Braille Literacy Month

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Winona Brackett, 12, reads from her Braille science school book on Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Stuart, Fla. Fewer than 10 percent of the 1.3 million legally blind people in the United States read Braille, and just 10 percent of blind children are learning it, according to a report to be released Thursday by the National Federation of the Blind. 
AP Photo/Steve Mitchell

January is National Braille Literacy Month, intended to be a time to learn about and celebrate the written code often used by the visually impaired.

Lacey Alexander

January is National Braille Literacy Month


The code of raised symbols was named after its creator Louis Braille, and is used to read or write words, math equations, and music. The month is observed in January because Braille was born on January 4th.

Shelley Franklin teaches braille and piano at the Mississippi School for the Blind in Jackson. She says that all people, not just her visually impaired students, can benefit from braille literacy.

"It's important for everyone to know about braille just like its important for my students that are blind to know about print," she said. "If more people knew about [braille], it might help with some of the misconceptions people have about braille."

Some of these misconceptions, she says, include thinking that those who read braille have to read it very slow. Franklin is visually-impaired herself, and says she wants her students to know that if they practice reading braille consistently now, they have a better chance of succeeding as an adult.

"Unemployment in the blind community is so high," she said. "if I can increase [my students'] literacy, it might help their chances of getting a job and being a productive citizen one day."

The Mississippi School of the Blind teaches students in Pre-K all the way through 12th grade.