Will Smartphones Kill Braille?

Only 1 in 10 people who are blind can read it
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 14, 2012 1:15 PM CST
Will Smartphones Kill Braille?
Winona Brackett, 12, read from her Braille science school book on Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Stuart, Fla.   (AP Photo/Steve Mitchell)

Braille's battle to avoid the fate of the Dodo is a long-running one: In the 1950s, more than 50% of the blind learned it; today, that figure is down to just 10%. And smartphones are just making matters worse, reports NPR. It takes a look at the life of a blind 19-year-old who relies on his iPhone for the things you'd expect—email, texting—but also as a set of eyes. One app allows him to pass a bill under his camera to learn its value. But there's a cost. "All through elementary school I used Braille," he explains. "But when I got a laptop, I switched over and I went away from Braille. If you don't use it, you lose it. And that's what happened to me."

He's now relearning Braille, at the Colorado Center for the Blind. Its director says technology is actually making Braille more accessible—she points to things like a slim Braille e-reader—but the flipside is that it's also fostering illiteracy. People will say "they just don't really use Braille very much. ... I think that it's kind of an out, and technically they really are mostly illiterate." NPR also points out that more and more school districts are arguing that they don't need to provide blind students with a Braille teacher because new software and tools allow students to keep up. (Read more braille stories.)

We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.