Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Braille Resources at the Library for the Blind & Physically Handicapped

"Make Every Single Thing Accessible"

At this year’s Grammy ceremony, singer Stevie Wonder, who is blind, teased the members of the Pentatonix a cappella group because they couldn't read the announcement about the song of the year winner, written in braille. He followed up his joke with a serious message: “We need to make every single thing accessible to every single person with a disability.” That remark received enthusiastic applause from the audience.

Tennessee's Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped has many braille books, including children's books, and Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman.

That moment at the awards show highlighted Louis Braille’s inspiration for the tactile method of reading and writing that many blind people find useful today. Braille developed his alphabet from a system of writing in code that had been used by Napoleon’s army to communicate silently and without light at night, to avoid alerting enemies.

Reading braille is the most comparble way for a blind person to comprehend the “printed” words of books, magazines and other information items. Libraries for the blind and physically handicapped all over the country are familiar with the slogan: “There’s More Than One Way to Read a Book.” It's an expression promoting the use of braille and audio materials. Reading braille, students learn to spell words from studying their context. It is also the way students learn the proper use of punctuation. The ability to read braille greatly increases the opportunities for blind people to get jobs and to be successful contributors to society.

Braille readers can read as fast or faster than their sighted peers if they are immersed in the braille code on a daily basis. The ability to read braille must be practiced, however, in order to maintain the skills and speed. In order to make it possible for braille readers to practice their skills and keep up with current literature and information, the Tennessee Library for the Blind & Physically Handicapped (TLBPH) loans braille books and magazines to any registered patron who would like to read them. More than 20,000 titles are available in braille from TLBPH, as well as others that can be obtained on interlibrary loan, for people of all ages. In addition, patrons can get subscriptions to popular magazines in braille format. TLBPH’s braille collection is the largest in the state and the only one open to anyone who needs braille to read.

We think Stevie would be pleased.

The Tennessee Library for the Blind & Physically Handicapped is a section of the Tennessee State Library & Archives, which is a division of Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett’s Office. For more information on the Tennessee Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, go to the Library’s webpage at:

The State Library and Archives is a division of the Tennessee Department of State and Tre Hargett, Secretary of State

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