AFB Celebrates 200 Years of Louis Braille
January 4, 2009, marks two special occasions: World Braille Day, celebrated annually, and the 200th anniversary of Louis Braille's birth. Braille, born in 1809 in Coupvray, France, lost his sight in an accident when he was just three years old. As a student at an institution for the blind, he was unsatisfied with the system used to promote literacy for students with visual impairments—it was bulky, costly, and difficult to read. In response, Braille created his own, more efficient system consisting of six dots; however, the system was not widely used or taught until after his death in 1852. Braille began to spread worldwide in 1868, and today is widely used in almost every country.
To commemorate the Louis Braille Bicentennial, AFB has created a special Louis Braille section of our web site that includes pictures of Louis Braille, digitized books, a calendar of commemorative events across the world, articles, and more. We will showcase one of the first books printed in braille—embossed in Paris in 1837, and one of only three copies in the world. Visitors to the online gallery can also access digitized copies of "The War of the Dots," a chapter from Robert Irwin's book As I Saw It, and The Reading Fingers by Jean Roblin. We're also adding updated information on Helen Keller's own thoughts on braille to the online Helen Keller Museum.
The January 2009 issue of the Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness (JVIB) will mark the beginning of the journal's yearlong celebration of Louis Braille's 200th birthday with an essay on braille by Susan Jay Spungin, retired Vice President for International Programs and Special Projects at AFB, and former Treasurer of the World Blind Union (WBU). Dr. Spungin will serve as the guest editor of the JVIB Louis Braille anniversary celebration and a special essay will be featured in each issue. Topics of these essays, to be written by notable members of the field of visual impairment and blindness in the United States and abroad, will include teaching braille in public schools, braille competencies, braille translation technology and its impact on literacy, and the Unified English Braille Code, to mention a few. Read the soon-to-be-released January 2009 issue of JVIB to discover more about Louis Braille.
Visitors to the popular Braille Bug site, perfect for children, teachers, and parents alike, can read Braille's biography, learn more about the braille code, print an alphabet key, learn how to write their names in braille, and much more. And keep coming back—throughout the year, AFB will add even more to the Braille Bug site, such as games and trivia. The Braille Bug Reading Club will also feature books on Louis Braille.
Louis Braille proved that if you have the motivation, you can do incredible things. AFB is proud to celebrate his 200th birthday and we hope you share in our excitement.
2009 Josephine L. Taylor Leadership Institute (JLTLI) Update
The agenda for AFB's 2009 Josephine L. Taylor Leadership Institute (JLTLI) is now available online. Check it out to view conference session topics, speakers, and special events. Don't forget to reserve your spot today!
News and Announcements
Help Us Evaluate AFB Senior Site®
If you have visited AFB Senior Site before and are familiar with its content, AFB wants to hear from you. In order to make Senior Site as effective and user-friendly as possible, we would like to talk with those who know it best—you! Everyone has different needs and uses Senior Site for a variety of reasons. Thus, it is extremely important to get feedback from all types of visitors, even the casual user!
If you are interested in helping us to make Senior Site a better resource for you and people you know, send us an e-mail or call so we can talk to you about your experience. The phone survey will take about 20 minutes and your information will be held in strictest confidence. E-mail your contact information to SeniorSiteSurvey@afb.net or call AFB's toll-free line at 1-800-232-5463 and ask for Adam Dewar, ext. 1817.
Drug Labeling Survey Results
A recent AFB survey found that people with vision loss were unable to read necessary instructions supplied with prescription and over-the-counter medications, often leading to taking the wrong medication, taking the improper dosage of a medication, and in some extreme cases, becoming ill or having to visit the emergency room. Given the more than 20 million people with vision loss, and the growing number of people diagnosed with vision loss, not being able to access/see drug container labels and package inserts is a significant public health challenge. To find out more, read the full report on AFB's web site.
Assistive Technology Assessment for Students Who are Blind or Visually Impaired
AFB's Ike Presley will conduct a training on April 23-25, 2009, in Atlanta, Georgia, on assistive technology assessments for students who are blind or visually impaired. Participants will learn to identify the major components of an assistive technology assessment: the gathering of the needed background information, assessing the student's options for accessing printed and electronic information, determining appropriate writing tools, and determining the tools needed to produce materials for the student in alternate formats.
If you are interested in participating, please contact Shirley Landrum at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 404-525-2303 to request an application. Applications must be received by March 12, 2009. There are 24 spaces available; applicants will be notified of their acceptance status within one week of the submission deadline.
Check out AFB's blog and read about SNL's portrayal of New York Governor David Paterson, Dollar General, accessible greeting cards, and more!