The following paper was presented by Dr A. Gangatharan, Lecturer, Department of History, Benaras Hindu University in the Seminar on “the Significance of Braille System in the present era” organised at H.L. Roy Memorial Hall, Indian Institute of Chemical Engineering, Jadabpur University, Kolkata on August 9, 2008 by Blind Persons’ Association with the aid of Indian Council of Social Science Research (Eastern Region).
“Light, my light, the world-filling light, the eye-kissing light, heart-sweetening light!
Ah, the light dances, my darling, at the centre of my life; the light strikes, the sky opens, the wind runs wild, laughter passes over the earth.
The butterflies spread their sails on the sea of light. Lilies and jasmines surge up on the crest of the waves of light.
The light is shattered into gold on every cloud, and it scatters gems in profusion.”
Text from, Poem No.57, ‘Geetanjali’ written by Rabindranath Tagore.
In this age of high-tech world access to information is most sought after rather then the acquisition of knowledge. The rapid development in the field of communication and technology has transformed the life of teaming millions of people with different challenges. People with vision challenge and print handicapness are found a new way to access a range of informations hitherto they have dreamt of. Sudden access to information has certainly created a fervent enthusiasm among the people with vision impairment to go after it at all costs.
Computer technology has injected a sense of confidence and the spirit of indomitable courage to face the world with determination and desired qualities for high level recruitment. While the access to knowledge undoubtedly opened new vistas, it also shut many doors which were familiar to the people with vision challenge. The Braille module, the most dependable writing system has lost increasingly its relevance with the spread of new technological advancement. This dictum can be challenged on many grounds, since braille as an eternal tool for writing would never go out of use, as it has already become the bedrock of civilization of the sightless. All scientific devices and technological instruments can of course ameliorate the life of people but they can never be able to give the skill of literacy in regard to reading and writing.
Writing and reading are the two eyes of the knowledge system, without its acquisition the process of learning never become complete. Braille system certainly offers liberty, accessibility and dependability in all circumstances without technical snack. It can be used at every circumstance at all times without risk and failure. It is a most reliable tool that the people with vision challenge use in carrying out there everyday personal and official duties. Use of Braille of course insures an easy access to information in every part of the world without incurring any expanses. It has been the key to our knowledge and will continue to give a unity of purpose in all our activities. The system can not be easily replaced as it has a direct barring in the life of vast multitude of sightless people across the world. While our claims appears to be a luddite conviction but as a matter of fact it is the reality of our life. Systems may come and go, technology may empower us with new avenues but writing systems like Braille can not be dismissed from the lifestyle of our existence as it give direct access to knowledge of literacy. In nutshell, braille operates as an individual learning system and supplements our need wherever it emanate from including the field of technology. Thus braille system functions as the very lifeline of sightless people in their endeavour to progress and prosperity.
Dr. A. Gangatharan