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Changing the Public's Attitude Toward Braille: A Grassroots Approach — JVIB Abstract

Abstract:


This study addressed the effect of casual exposure to braille on the attitudes toward blindness and the use of braille of three groups of sighted university students: students in two sections of a general linguistics course for language arts teachers, one taught by a blind instructor (Group 1) and the other taught by a sighted instructor (Group 2), and students in an English composition class (Group 3). Overall, the respondents in Group 1 expressed the most positive attitudes toward blindness and toward braille. These results suggest that individual readers of braille can positively affect attitudes toward braille.

There is no denying the utility of braille in the personal and professional lives of people who are blind. As Nemeth (1988, p. 316) aptly put it, 'Braille has liberated a whole class of people from a condition of illiteracy and dependence and has given them the means for self-fulfillment and enrichment.' Despite the utility of braille, however, rates of literacy in braille have been decreasing (American Foundation for the Blind, 1994). In the face of low braille literacy rates, braille readers and advocates have lobbied vigorously for the increased use of braille in all areas of life, and there has been much discussion about improving attitudes toward braille and the effect of negative attitudes on the use and availability of braille (see Augosto *ampersand*#0038; McGraw, 1990; Ponchillia *ampersand*#0038; Durant, 1995; Wall, 2002; Wittenstein, 1994). Schroeder's (1996) article helped clarify attitudes toward braille among people who are blind, readers and nonreaders alike (see also Wells-Jensen, 2002, 2003).


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