World Braille Day : Definition, History & Theme

World Braille Day is celebrated as an international day on 4 January. The day is celebrated to create awareness of the importance of Braille, which is a means of communication for the full realization of Human rights for the blind and visually impaired people.

The date was chosen by the United Nations General Assembly through a proclamation in November 2018. World Braille Day marks the birth anniversary of Louis Braille, the one person who started this writing system. The first World Braille Day” was celebrated on January 4, 2019. 

What is the background of World Braille Day?

The cases of Eye Conditions are very common and are relatively significant among people. A global estimation made by World Health Organization records that, there are at least 1 billion people, who have eye conditions. The conditions could be a near or distance vision impairment, which could have been prevented, but so far not addressed yet.

It is found that people with vision impairment are in a higher probability to experience higher rates of poverty and other disadvantages, than those that are not. Inability to meet their needs, and fulfill their rights, comes with wider consequences. Along with vision loss, comes a series of a lifetime or unending inequality, poverty, and barriers in education and employment.

In 2006, at a Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities, it was adopted to advance the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. Braille was considered the most essential for education, freedom of expression and opinion, having access to information, and for social inclusion. Over and above, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted in 2015 pledged that no one will be left behind in this endeavor to ensure that all human beings ought to enjoy prosperous and fulfilling lives.

Following, the above development, in November 2018, the General Assembly decided to proclaim 4 January as World Braille Day. It recognized that the full realization of Human rights and fundamental freedoms rests in the inclusive written promotion.

COVID-19 and people with disabilities in the present context

As mentioned above, about one billion people worldwide are faced with disabilities, or even under normal circumstances, they will have little recourse to health care, education, employment, and be able to participant in the community. The probability to live in poverty, or experience a higher rater of violence, neglect, and abuse, or be among the most marginalized in any crisis-affected community is relatively high.

In the present context, following COVID-19, the visually impaired as faced with several issues in terms of independence and isolation, more so because they gravely relied on touch to communicate and access any information. The pandemic has shown how necessary it is to develop materials through which they will be able to access information, in Braille, or other audible formats. Not following the guidelines, would put them in the most dangerous situations. The lockdown has shown the importance of Braille as a means of communication for these sections of our society, which will be more effectively shared by the digital inclusion of all people.

As part of the United Nations efforts in promoting disability inclusion during COVID-19, disseminating information in Braille has become significant.

About 4,050 Braille Materials on awareness and prevention of Covid19 were produced by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Malawi. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) shared audio information, and communication materials in Ethiopia, and was developed into Braille Versions, for instructions. Not to forget, the UNICEF guidance notes were also produced in Braille, entitled “COVID-19: Considerations for Children and Adults with Disabilities”, with the objective to share information.

What was the theme of World Braille Day 2021?

Following is the theme United Nations declared for World Braille Day 2021:

“Even under normal circumstances, persons with disabilities—one billion people worldwide— are less likely to access health care, education, employment and to participate in the community”.

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