Dear AccessWorld readers,
The holidays are behind us now, and it's time to start looking forward to a new year. For many, that means New Year's resolutions and commitments to exercising, losing weight, eating healthier foods, and taking better care of ourselves. Statistically, people with vision loss tend to be among the most sedentary and unhealthy among all age groups, but it does not have to be that way. You may be surprised by how technology can help you become healthier in 2020.
I encourage you to download and try out various health tracker apps and wearable devices that can help you accessibly keep track of your steps, workout intensity, and number of fitness sessions. For general information about fitness for people with vision loss, please read the 2011 AccessWorld article, Fitness FAQs from the Desk of AFB's Information and Referral Specialist. While this article may be a blast from the past, it contains many relevant and useful ideas for keeping active and adapting exercise and sporting activities for people who have low or no vision.
Each year, in January, AccessWorld recognizes and celebrates the birthday, contributions, and legacy of Louis Braille. The fact is, 200 years ago, a child or adult who was blind did not have an effective way to read or write independently. Today, thanks to Louis Braille's invention and continuing advancements in technology, children and adults who are blind or visually impaired can read and write as well as their sighted peers. The invention of braille, a system of raised dots representing letters, numbers, and punctuation, truly revolutionized independent communication for people with visual impairments.
This month, AccessWorld celebrates the anniversary of Louis Braille's birthday, January 4, 1809. We also celebrate the braille code, named after its young inventor, and the expanded possibilities for literacy and independence this code created for people with vision loss.
The AccessWorld team invites you to visit The Louis Braille Museum on the AFB website, which illustrates the life and legacy of the creator of the braille code. Using photographs, engravings, and illustrations from books preserved in the AFB Archives and Rare Book Collection, the museum traces Louis Braille's life from his childhood in Coupvray, France, through his student years in Paris, to his invention of the braille code and the recognition of its importance throughout the world.
We also invite you to read "Braille, the Magic Wand of the Blind," Helen Keller's essay on Louis Braille, written around 1924. In this essay, Keller describes how the braille system works and relates how she benefited from learning and using braille. She describes the reading systems that existed prior to braille and the debates of the late 19th and early 20th centuries over competing embossed systems.
Today, braille has made the leap into the increasingly fast-paced world of technology via braille notetakers and braille displays. The following braille-related articles from the past several months of the AccessWorld archives will be interesting and useful to those who are interested in, or users of, braille and braille technology.
The entire AccessWorld team hopes you enjoy this issue and exploring the additional braille resources linked to above. The team hopes you will make the new year resolution to make 2019 the year you become more tech savvy than ever; AccessWorld will be here to support your technology journey. Technology is the key to better education, employment, and becoming and maintaining connected to the world around us. I encourage you to seek it out and use it to your fullest advantage!
The AccessWorld team and I wish you all the best in the new year!
Lee Huffman, AccessWorld Editor-in-Chief
American Foundation for the Blind