There are a total of 21 disabilities present globally. The most common among them is blindness. It is a disability where an individual is partially or totally blind, i.e., suffering from a lack of vision. According to WHO, about 2.2 billion people are visually impaired globally 
. While the visually impaired might have lost their sense of sight, they however do see the world through the sense of touch. And when it comes to reading, the “seeing” is done with the help of Braille. Unfortunately, the visually impaired still face a lot of issues.
This World Braille Day, let’s learn more about these issues and how technology has eased their way of living in some ways over the years.
What is Braille?
Before we understand what the Braille language is, we first need to understand the history of its inventor, Louis Braille. Braille was born in the year 1809 in the small French town of Coupvray. Braille used to spend most of his early childhood years at his father’s leather workshop. Unfortunately, a mishap struck, and he got blinded in one eye at the age of three while playing with some of the tools at the workshop. And due to the lack of advanced treatment options at the time, he soon lost vision in his second eye as well.
However, he did not let his visual impairment impair his life. Braille was a smart person and excelled well academically, allowing him to get selected at the Royal Institute for Blind Youth, which at the time was the world’s first school made for blind students. In 1824, Braille invented the eponymous language.
The Braille language has been universally accepted not just by governments across the world, but by various national and international organisations as well. So far, over 133 languages have successfully adapted Braille. So, what is Braille? It is a language that is based on certain specific symbols. These symbols exist in the form of raised dots, specifically six raised dots. A column of three dots placed parallelly next to each other is used to make different alphabets. There are a total of 64 combinations used in this language.
Braille is used almost everywhere: from railway stations to libraries and from banks to even electronic devices. To highlight the importance and impact of Braille and the language he created, the United Nations declared 4th
January as World Braille Day in 2019 (4th
January is the day when Louis Braille was born).
Problems Faced by the Blind
Even if the Braille language has bridged the communication barrier, the visually impaired still face a lot of problems in their day-to-day life.
These problems include:
If there is one aspect of the world where we as a society have failed the blind, it is accessibility. Example one can easily observe is the lack of blind-friendly structures at railway stations or at establishments such as malls, such as no railings or ramps.
Along with accessibility, lack of assistance is another major problem that plagues blind people. Whenever they step out, they have to rely on the assistance of strangers for tasks such as crossing the road or going in the right direction. Without any assistance from authorities, blind people are left to fend for themselves.
Often times, we see that one visually impaired individual is accompanied by a person with the same disability. This can lead to social isolation for the blind. Even though society acknowledges their presence, they rather do look at them with sympathy and treat them differently.
Blind people have very few opportunities of having a normal source of income. Most of them either rely on alms from people or financial assistance from NGOs or government schemes. Some even try to sell small items on trains or on the road. This robs them of the chance of ever achieving financial independence of their own.
Gadgets Empowering the Blind
Despite these problems, there are some who have tried to help the visually impaired in one way or another through technology.
The results are some of the gadgets listed below:
This phone comes with the braille language imprinted on the surface of the phone. It allows the individual to use the phone just like any other phone. With this phone, they can call and speak with anyone without requiring any external assistance. For example, if they wish to inquire about health insurance,
they can immediately call the customer care service of an insurance company.
Blind people use a normal walking stick that works as a guide for them to navigate to their destination. However, due to its basic nature, there are instances where they could run into a pole or wall or even get injured by accident. The eye stick comes with a camera fitted in it. Each time the camera sees any type of obstacle in the route, it sends a signal to the stick holder in the form of vibrations. This helps them avoid the obstacle safely. If the individual does get severely injured, their health insurance coverage in India can cover the cost of treatment*.
Glasses with Visual Assistance
Certain special glasses have a camera fitted on them, which streams the live footage back to the data centre of the manufacturer. Based on the footage, the individual is guided by live audio instructions given by trained individuals sitting in the data centre.
While there is still a lot of work to do when it comes to tackling the issues faced by the blind, these gadgets are just the beginning of helping them lead a normal life.
If you wish to insure a blind family member, you can purchase one of the health insurance plans for family.
*Standard T&C apply
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