With World Braille Day coming up on the 4th of January, it will soon be time to celebrate and acknowledge the importance and helpfulness of braille and sign language as methods of communication. At Seashell, we think it’s important to take the opportunity to celebrate many different ways that people communicate alongside braille. So what is braille communication, Makaton and sign language? And why is World Braille Day important? Read on to find out.

What is braille communication, Makaton and sign language?

So what is braille communication? It is a fascinating tactile method of reading and writing for those who are visually impaired. Braille involves reading and writing with touch over raised dots on paper or even through a computer using a refreshable braille display. It is written using a series of six raised dots on a grid that come in a total of sixty-three different combinations. These patterns of dots can then be understood by visually impaired people by feeling the dots with their fingertips.

Though World Braille Day is important for celebrating braille, it is also a good opportunity to learn about the importance of other languages, such as Makaton and sign language.

Makaton is a communication method that involves signing, speech and symbols together that helps people with SEND to express themselves. By using signs alongside speech, Makaton can help people who struggle to speak or whose speech may be harder to understand. By including symbols too, those who prefer not to sign or have limited speech have methods to communicate too. You can find out more about Makaton, how to start using it, and its importance on The Makaton Charity’s website.

Though similar to Makaton and equally as useful, sign language is a little different. Sign language involves visually communicating using gestures, usually to help people who have impaired hearing or are deaf to speak to people. Sign language is not universal, however, and is different all around the world. It can even change from city to city! When using sign language in Great Britain, British Sign Language, or BSL for short, is typically used. BSL is used by over 145,000 people in the UK. To find out more about BSL and how it is used in day-to-day life, take a look at the British Sign website.

The importance of World Braille Day

If you’re wondering, we celebrate World Braille Day on the 4th of January as it is the date of Louis Braille’s birthday, born in 1809. Here at Seashell, we think it’s very important to celebrate World Braille Day and show respect for braille and other communication methods that help people who communicate in different ways. Since its very first introduction by Louis Braille in 1829 and its wider use from 1854, visually impaired people have benefited from Braille’s virtually unchanged invention ever since.

By giving time to show appreciation for braille and sign language on World Braille Day, we hope to support people who use different means of communication, raise awareness of the daily experiences of these people, and hope to inspire further attempts and improvements to make sure that everybody can communicate in a way that suits them.

Celebrating World Braille Day

If you want some inspiration on how to celebrate braille and sign language on World Braille Day, these are some fun activities you can do to learn something new and spread awareness:

  • Try learning some braille – As such an interesting language, braille is really fun to learn when you get stuck in. Try using these resources to get started.
  • Find out more about Louis Braille – Louis Braille developed braille at just 15 years old as a result of becoming visually impaired due to a childhood accident. Take some time to read about his interesting life story.
  • Practice learning other alternative methods of communication – World Braille Day doesn’t have to mean talking and learning about braille alone, have a go at learning some other languages too. Try signing your name or greeting someone in BSL or Makaton.
  • Research a celebrity’s experience with braille – Some of your favourite celebrities may have used braille. There are several visually impaired celebrities you may know such as Ray Charles, Helen Keller, and Stevie Wonder. Find out their experience with braille and how they’ve used it to communicate.
  • Talk to someone you know – If you know someone who has visual impairments, talk to them and find out if braille has been important to them in their lives.

Communicating with braille and sign language at Seashell

Seashell is a charity dedicated to providing a creative, happy and secure environment for children and young people with complex needs and additional communication challenges from across the country. Throughout the year, we provide care for many individuals, including those using a variety of different communication methods.

We hope you now fully understand what is braille communication and how it works. We’re very excited to celebrate World Braille Day and raise awareness of the important and wonderful ways of communication which are braille and sign language. 

Contact us on 0161 610 0100, or email us at info@seashelltrust.org.uk to find out more about communication methods to help your child express themselves, or any other enquiries you may have about our support.