Bringing Awareness to Braille

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STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV)-- January is National Braille Literacy Month. But now, advances in technology has some braille users switching from reading braille books to audio technology.

Shyanne Racey was born with cataracts and glaucoma, leaving her to see mostly blurry shapes. She says braille gives her independence and allows her to see into many worlds.

"It's my way of sharing my love and things for literature," said Racey.

It's always been a part of her life.

"Everyone else read print books, I read braille books," added Racey.

The National Federation of the Blind, or NFB, says there is a braille literacy crisis.

Carolyn Carver works with kids who were raised on braille and those who have recently lost their sight. She says there can be resistance when it comes to learning braille .

"You know, I don't want to learn something new," said Carver. "I don't want to give up the print, and then eventually they realize that 'hey it's going to make things so much easier for them'."

Nearly 90 percent of America's blind children are not learning to read and write because they are not being taught braille or given access to it.
A lot of it has to do with audio technology advances. For Racey, a lover of books, that's a shame.

"But if you go by auditory, you're never going to see how things are spelled out or you're never going to see punctuation," said Racey.

The NFB says this crisis has dire effects, which leaves more than 70 percent of blind adults out of work.

"Braille literacy is just as important to blind students as print literacy is to a student with vision--it's just as important," said Carver. "It unlocks the world for them, it provides opportunities."

The NFB says that a contributing factor to this crisis is also a shortage of braille teachers.