The work of the Braillists Foundation, to spread braille literacy during the pandemic, was recognised by the National Braille Press Touch of Genius Prize for Innovation announced in Anaheim earlier last month. The Braillists Foundation received a monitary contribution and an honourable mention at the 37th Annual California State University (CSUN) Assistive Technology Conference on Technology and Disability.
Dave Williams, Chair of the Braillists Foundation, said: “We are thrilled to even be considered for NBP’s Touch of Genius. Massive thank you to the judging panel and huge congratulations to our amazing team of volunteers for all your incredible hard work spreading tactile literacy, especially amongst those denied this opportunity elsewhere. Braille enables blind people to read and write by touch freeing our ears to access the people and places around us, to find our own voices and gain greater confidence and independence.”
Over the past two years, the Braillists Foundation has delivered hundreds of classes online, presentations, and resources for thousands of braille readers across the UK and around the world. The UK-based charity, formally established in early 2020, has provided opportunities for beginners to learn braille, practice sessions, get help and support. The Braillists community provides a safe space where learners can access peer support and encouragement, boosting motivation and engagement at a time when many feel discouraged due to dwindling eyesight. The opportunity to learn a skill like braille is rewarding in itself because of the transformative power and benefits it can bring to its users.
The Braillists Foundation has ambitious plans for the future. They are hoping to offer an on-demand version of Braille for Beginners so people will not be tied to a specific class schedule. They are also planning to enhance their braille learning classes to include contracted braille, and perhaps maths and science.
- The Braillists is a grass-roots community connecting Braille readers with Braille technology developers and funders. We believe Braille has the potential to transform the life of any blind person who has the opportunity to learn it. Our Aims are to:
- Promote the value of Braille as a proven literacy tool that enriches the lives of blind people.
- Support efforts to make affordable Braille and tactile reading technologies available to all blind people irrespective of education and employment status.
- Provide an open forum for the exchange of ideas about the development of future Braille technology.
- The Touch of Genius Prize for Innovation is an annual prize awarded to a project, or projects, that show the most innovative idea in the field of braille and tactile literacy. Innovators have come from all over the world in the fields of education, technology, engineering, tactile graphics, and literacy. This is the only prize to foster and reward innovation in the area of braille and tactile literacy for the blind and deaf blind communities.
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