National Braille Day

Promoting and safeguarding Braille to give strength and visibility to the method of reading and writing that has empowered the blind of the world.
Mario Barbuto, National President of the Italian Union of the Blind and Visually Impaired

Poster of the event

According to law 126/2007, each year on the 21st day of February, we celebrate National Braille Day to commemorate the reading and writing code for the blind. The system is named after its inventor, Louis Braille, who developed it some two hundred years ago, thus opening the doors of knowledge and culture to millions of blind people in France and around the world. Young Louis Braille, who had become blind as a child in his father's workshop, developed his ideas for a tactile code from a secret reading and tactile method proposed by French army officer Charles Barbier during the Napoleonic military campaigns. Braille perfected this method and adapted it to the perceptive abilities of the fingertips, in particular of the left index finger, based on his own personal experience.


The system has not received full support to this day. Many educators then were immediately opposed to its use as they thought it tended to "marginalize" people. Still today many consider it inadequate and obsolete.


Thanks to the Braille alphabet, illiteracy has been eradicated among blind people all over the world as they have been able to learn how to read and undertake regular studies that allow them access to the highest summits of culture, to university chairs and top positions of countless professional activities.


In celebrating National Braille Day, the Italian Union of the Blind and Visually Impaired expresses its gratitude to the Italian Parliament for formalizing the day, but at the same time voices its disappointment for the lack of resources necessary to give to this Day the notoriety and visibility it deserves.


During the approval process of the last Budget Law, we had asked for a modest allocation of financial resources in order to provide us with the means to actually promote and safeguard Braille in Italy, as provided by the 2007 Law. Despite the commitment of some and the assurances of many, it was not possible or wished for to find such limited resources, thus leaving up to our organization alone the sole responsibility of developing initiatives and events taking place throughout the country. National celebrations took place this year in Matera and Turin to showcase National Braille Day, and dozens of other events also marked the last decade of February in many Italian cities, giving strength and visibility to the reading and writing code based on six dots, and honouring its inventor Louis Braille who will forever remain in the heart of millions of profoundly thankful blind people around the world.


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