ABU Otsuki Award
Braille In Spite Of The New Technologies For The Blind
India Tej Singh Tak (66/Male)
Photo: Tej Singh Tak

New technologies mainly include Computer, CD, Cassettes, I-pod, Mobiles etc which are dependent on listening. Braille has relation with touch which works as visibility for the blind. The difference which exists in listening and seeing has similar difference in comparing Braille and mediums available within new technologies. Braille is for everyone though availability of new technology is for well to do people only. The more the person, society and nation will be well to do the more would be availability of technical facilities. Braille has relation with simple technique though new technologies have relation with developed and scientific instruments. Braille is commonly available to rich-poor, child-elderly, remote village and metro cities. What would the new technologies do where electricity is not available?
Entire universe is formulated by five key elements and the qualities of these five elements are synchronized with the qualities of our sensory organs. i.e. eyes, ears etc. Sense of hearing is related to the quality of Sky. All the languages are based on words; hence entire knowledge is incorporated in them. Knowledge can be availed only when the meaning of the words are clubbed with concentration of mind. Mind is naturally unstable; hence it is difficult to attach the meaning of each word with the mind through only listening. It becomes easier to stabilize along with concentration when it gets objective support of dots or lines. That is why written words are more useful.
We absorb words either by the medium of listening or by seeing. Writing a word actually makes the word available for the eyes to be absorbed. Where the role of eyes is being played by touch, there Braille becomes the same medium. so that we now understand the word by listening, or touching only.
Braille cannot be replaced with the mediums that are dependent on listening in new technologies, the reasons for the same are mentioned below:
  1. Sequential Knowledge: The knowledge gained sequentially is more stable. Knowledge of alphabets can be methodically learned only when size of alphabets, their sequence, combined alphabets, combination of 2-3 or more alphabets and sentences formed out of words etc are understandable. When knowledge is gained through the mediums of new technologies which are dependent on listening, this aspect remains unfocused and the teaching starts directly with the prescribed course.
  2. Convenience of Revision: Repetition of any subject while studying is obligatory when either there is a hindrance or the subject is not understood. The mediums that are dependent on listening do not have that level of possibility to repeat which is actually required. In the audible mediums repetition is missed out even when the subject is not able to understand. This is due to the inability to reach the exact place or laziness and is therefore left out. But through Braille a word or line is conveniently read twice or as many times.
  3. Precision of Spelling: Knowledge of spelling can never be accurate by listening because many people do not pronounce correctly hence to understand the fine difference in close alphabets, reading by Braille is must.
  4. Pronunciation difference as per location: Words having same spelling are also differently pronounced as per location. Americans, English and Indians pronounce the same word differently. Hence it is comparatively tough for a differently located person to understand the accurate spelling only by listening though Braille does not have such problem.
  5. Knowledge of Punctuation: Punctuation symbols for eg comma, full stop, colon etc support the understanding of the subject. Hence a blind person can get the knowledge of these punctuations by reading through Braille and not completely by listening.
  6. Exact Location on page: Letters and application have a specific place e.g. writing date, address, and while writing essay specific place of writing heading and sub heading at left corner, right corner or center of the page are in practice, hence knowledge of these cannot be grasped through CDs etc hence Braille is the only real medium.
  7. Supportive at tough time: Braille can be read at any time during day or night, specially for old patients who are suffering from some chronic diseases, or who are suffering from insomnia or old who have lesser sleep, that time Braille provides support. Other mediums require availability of electricity and expenditure of electricity and also it disturbs the house hold members if used at odd hours.
  8. Trust worthy: The way a sighted person does not believe just by listening and touching rather believe only on viewing. Similarly a blind person also trusts self reading by Braille in comparison to listening because their seeing ability is dependent on touching.
  9. Hardships to learn new technology at an old age: Young ones and children are competent to adapt new technologies but older people sighted or blind avoid learning new technologies hence are unable to gain benefit out of these.
  10. Braille as energizer: If a study is conducted to observe the difference between elderly blind that use Braille and the elderly blind that do not use Braille, the study would definitely reflect that Blind that use Braille are energetic and happier as their time is being utilized reading books as per their best capabilities. The blind that do not use Braille would not be optimistic, but will be dissatisfied with life and unstable.
  11. Independency through Braille: Braille delivers satisfaction in making notes for studying and teaching, giving marks while examining, managing money of Bank and post office etc. Kitchen items can be recognized by using chits over the boxes written in Braille. These things can also be done through new technologies but a feeling of independence is felt more through Braille.
  12. Sense of owning: Reader or users of new technological interventions and Braille have the same difference as that of seeing and hearing. Hearing does not clarify the subject to the extent Braille does. Braille gives sense of ownership hence there is trust and in hearing ownership gets missing.
Be it new technology or Braille, both have certain limitations but new technologies are dependent but Braille provides independence. The instruments that are used in new technologies have bad effect on eyes and ears and Braille does not have such hindrance, in fact on using Braille sensitivity of touch gets enhanced which can be used in other areas of life also.
New technologies get older through times. At some point of time audio cassette were very much in use, today we use CDs and in due course of time some other tool might take over, but Braille does not have any such scope. New technology and Braille can be compared to a certain extent to the story of Rabbit and Tortoise, where slow and steady tortoise won the race.
Hence in my opinion in spite of new technology the role of Braille has much more importance for the Blind.


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