Braille is Knowledge, and knowledge is Power………………Louis Braille
Remembering the birth anniversary of Louis Braille, the inventor of Braille, every year, World Braille Day is being observed on 4th January every year. Braille day is being observed globally, to raise awareness of the importance of braille as a means of communication, in the full realization of the human rights for visually impaired and partially sighted people.
Every year, on the occasion of World Braille Day, Mitra Jyothi also organizes a few activities and events to raise awareness about Braille. This year’s Braille Day, the 4th of January, turned into a fruitful-happening day at Mitra Jyothi with the occurrence of a series of memorable events.
Mitra Jyothi’s s Braille Day observance was begun with the visit by one of our esteemed library members, Mr. BapuKhade who is visually impaired by birth and a long-term member of Mitra Jyothi’s Talking Book Library and Braille Press. Mr. Bapu is accessing books from our library for the past 28 years, throughout his education period and career development time. The purpose of his visit was to interact with the students at Mitra Jyothi as a part of an inspirational session on the occasion of World Braille Day. Mr. Bapu is currently serving as the Senior Associate at the State Bank of India. He shared his journey of becoming a successful professional at SBI, by overcoming all the challenges of being visually impaired. He quoted that, Mitra Jyothi’s Library has a significant role in his success and expressed his gratitude for all the services he got for completing his education and job preparation. The session was really inspiring for the students, and it helped to boost their confidence.
Following that; the Director - The Department for the Empowerment of Differently Abled and Senior Citizens (DEDASC), the Government of Karnataka along with 3 other officers, have visited Mitra Jyothi on Braille Day. In the visit, they got to see and understand all the major activities run by this organization such as the audio library, Braille Press, Independent Living skill Training, and Computer training for visually impaired people. The team was overwhelmed by understanding the services provided by Mitra Jyothi to empower persons with disabilities. After the visit, Dr.Munirajan made a remark about our organization that, “I am very happy to see the digital library. It helps a lot to all the visually impaired students across the country”.
In the evening, a Braille awareness event was organized at Mitra Jyothi auditorium involving the students and staff of Mitra Jyothi. The event was started with a speech, by our computer student, Sahana, paying tribute to Louis Braille for all his remarkable contributions to the world. She talked in short about the life journey of Louis Braille and the history of the invention of Braille. The students Anniyemma and Bhimshanker also shared their thoughts on the occasion of Braille Day.
A few activities related to Braille were organized for the participants with the intention to raise more interest in Braille. A Braille reading activity was performed by three participants, in which the fluency and speed in Braille reading were analyzed. Similarly, a tactile recognition activity was also conducted, in which different tactile like shapes, animals, and other commonly known objects were given to the participants and tested their recognition ability. It was really an amazing experience for the students, many of them never got an opportunity to access Braille materials other than books. One of our students Sreedhar says, “This is for the first time in my life, I have experienced the tactile. It was a thrilling experience to identify the objects by sensing the tactile”. The best performers in both the activities were congratulated with some complimentary gifts.
Ms. Madhu Singhal, Founder, Mitra Jyothi, gave a final remark at the end of the event. She mentioned the importance of World Braille Day and the purpose of observing the day. Ms.Madhu said that the contribution of Louis Braille, made significant changes in the lives of millions of visually impaired people worldwide and we all are grateful to him for the same. Ms. Madhu Singhal concluded her remarks by saying, “If Louis Braille and this invention was not there, where we would have gone”?
As a part of the observance of World Braille Day, Glance, an intelligence-based software company, conducted a live interview of Ms. Madhu Singhal as one of the successful visually impaired personalities in the country. On the occasion of Braille Day, they interviewed Ms. Madhu to understand the establishment of Mitra Jyothi as a successful NGO in serving the visually impaired people. She talked about the journey of Mitra Jyothi and also about the changes in the lives of visually impaired people comparing the situation 30 years back. The interviewer asked for some policy recommendations for the betterment of PwDs to put in front of the government. Ms. Madhu recommended the below 3 points for the policy-making;
1. Government should be very strict about the website or mobile apps accessibility for persons with any kind of disability, including visual, speaking, hearing, and locomotive disabilities.
2. There are many technological advances in the world that are designed, to be used by PwDs also. However, whenever there is an update in the existing applications happens, the developer often forgets about considering the accessibility issues. Some strict regulations are to be imposed to avoid these kinds of loopholes.
3. There should be a representation from PwDs in each level of decision-making starting from the Panchayat level till Parliament. This would help to make the country better inclusive.
At the end of the interview, Ms. Madhu Singhal quoted that, the process of disability inclusion can be completed only with the self-motivated effort from PwDs , along with all the efforts and support from the government and other service systems.
With all these happenings, this year’s World Braille Day was a meaningful experience at Mitra Jyothi. It fulfilled all the motives of observance of the day.