National Freedom of Information Day, and Your Child’s Right to Braille

The National Freedom of Information Day (March 16th) is a day Americans, with renewed energy, remind us of the importance of government transparency. We, the people, have a right to information.

The very idea of “freedom of information” re-energizes and reminds me that people who are blind AND people who have low vision have a right to information. They can access stories, textbooks, recipes, charts, websites, notes, menus, labels, etc. They have a right to access this information efficiently and without physical strain. And you know what makes this possible? Braille, the code that changed the course of history.

Parents, know the law and the rights of your child who is blind or low vision.

What does the law state?

Special education law states children who are blind or low vision should be thoroughly taught braille unless there is an assessed and documented reason it is inappropriate.

This isn’t always happening in practice.

Teachers for students with visual impairments (TVIs) have high caseloads and limited time. It is common for TVIs to teach braille to totally blind students and to focus on print magnification for students with low vision. While this may appear reasonable, and it is often well-intentioned, there are real struggles for many people with low vision who are solely print readers. Common struggles include eye strain, pain from poor posture, slower reading, and long-term frustration. Successful adults with low vision have a wide variety of resources in their literacy toolboxes. For many, these tools include braille literacy skills.

Speaking as a TVI

Having your child learn braille seems daunting. If your child can distinguish letters or read print, it seems foreign and unnecessary. Consider, though, your child in adulthood. What sets them up for success?

According to the Journal of Blindness Innovation and Research, blind and visually impaired individuals who read braille on at least a weekly basis have a higher likelihood of employment and higher earnings than blind and visually impaired print readers.

Maybe it is time to advocate for your child’s freedom of information.

TVIs need parents’ support to advocate for fewer students on their caseloads.

Braille resources

As you navigate your child’s braille journey, sign your child up for free braille books. Because, as APH ConnectCenter has long since championed, literacy is a right, not a privilege.