Why Braille literacy matters

January is National Braille Literacy Month. We recognize the contributions of Louis Braille who invented the code of raised dots, which allows people who are visually impaired or blind to read using a tactile system.

Whether you’re a person who is sighted, partially sighted or blind, literacy means the same thing: You have the ability to read and write.

To achieve this, you can employ one or several means of communication that work best for you, like Braille, large print or speech.

Braille and Innovation

If you or someone you know is blind or visually impaired, assistive technology provides many advantages—oftentimes in tandem with Braille. For example, you can:

  • Listen to audio on a computer or tablet, or access text-to-speech on multiple devices
  • Read and write using electronic  devices such as a refreshable Braille display, which connects to a computer that has assistive technology
  • Navigate the internet, correspond using email, use a smart phone with accessibility apps, or read texts on your smartwatch
  • Manage programs like Microsoft Word using the Braille display on your notetaker, which allows for keyboard entry in Braille

Braille Changes Lives

Lighthouse Guild offers Braille instruction, for people preschool-aged and up. For the past year, we’ve been teaching the new code, known as Unified English Braille (UEB), which updates and simplifies how you use Braille.

The reasons to learn Braille depend entirely on you, or a person you know who could benefit from it.

Knowing Braille might help you succeed in school or at work.  It can also expand opportunities in your day-to-day activities such as to read the newspaper, read to your grandchildren, write down a recipe or write a note to yourself.

You’re never too old to learn: We’ve had people in their 70s and 80s learn Braille. No matter your age, Braille literacy can help improve your quality of life and boost your independence.

Find out about Lighthouse Guild’s comprehensive services for people who are visually impaired or blind, including Braille instruction and our state-of-the-art Adaptive Technology Center: Call 212-769-6274.

For information about the new Unified English Braille (UEB), visit the Braille Authority of North America’s website at To help make the transition, you can also find commonly used new symbols at the beginning of many recently published books and magazines.