Canute is tackling the decline in Braille literacy - and everyone should care.
Being able to read is one of the most precious of skills: Books free the imagination and inspire creativity – they allow people to learn independently, and relax after a hard day.
But not everyone has that luxury.
This week is National Braille Week: a week dedicated to the raised dots that allow blind people to read letters, numbers, punctuation and words.
But Braille is on the decline.
In the ’60s up to 50% of blind school children in the US were able to read Braille, but this figure is now closer to 10%.
Today one company hopes to turn this around, with a device that’s fit for the digital age.
Get ready to meet Canute.
Read the full article here.
"National Braille Week" is obviously long since over, but I didn't want to interrupt all the "Battlefield 1066" stuff with this post. Plus, it was either over or almost so by the time I knew of this article anyway, so... *Shrugs*
Anyway, I expect some of you at least will be interested in my thoughts?
I think I heard something about this a little while ago, so it's nice to see evidence that there's progress on it, and that it's now being tested in schools and things. It really would be a shame if the number of braille users declined even more, and it's great to see efforts are being made to stop that happening. Modern technology is often a wonderful thing, but I think it's sad that most people aren't being taught how to do things without technology these days, and those still in school right now would be lost without their computers and things.
So, my thoughts on the device itself...
On the one hand, I think this is great, and look forward to when they make one a bit smaller, so it actually is portable, and I can maybe get one. Yes, I can read braille, as those who have been following my blog for some time know already. It would be great to be able to read a book without it announcing to the world what I'm reading, or the need for headphones. Also, see my comments above about not wanting the number of braille readers to decline further.
On the other hand, I hate that they consider the £600 price tag to be cheap and affordable, because that is not cheap, and is not easily affordable by most people. I mean, sure, it's cheap when compared to a lot of the devices, which come in at £1000 and above, but that's still a lot of money. I hope, when they bring out the more portable one, they also manage to do something to lower the cost a bit, otherwise it's going to be out of the price range of many. I get it being more expensive than your average Kindle, but since most Kindles are a third of that price, often cheaper again, you'd think they could knock the price tag down a bit. Especially if their aim is to encourage people to buy this option rather than relying on text to speach software (which, by the way, isn't always cheap... Just saying). Yeah, I know, I get it, it costs a lot of money to make things like this. Blah, blah, blah. I've heard that argument before, and I'll give you the same response I give whenever I hear it: they'd make their money back far easier selling several at lower prices that most people can actually afford, rather than struggling to sell more than a hanfful because most people can't afford to buy them. I mean, there's several pieces of technology I'd just love to own, but just can't afford, which is a problem plenty of others have too, and I wish they'd consider that before insisting £600 price tags are cheap.
Beyond that, the main thing I'm wondering is... Will this work for any books? Or will it be like text to speach is on my actual Kindle, where it doesn't work with some books? I think it's meant to be the former, which would be great, but if it's the latter, will something be done to make sure "text to braille" becomes more readily available on books in the future?