Braille Signs

Braille signs are those that use tactile dots known as Braille to help people with visual impairments to read what is on the sign. These signs use Grade II Braille translations on them, which is the contracted form of Braille, since this makes the translations shorter as compared to when Grade 1 Braille is used. The main reason why these dots are placed on these signs is due to what we mentioned earlier, which is to help people with visual impairments to understand what is written on these signs.

Now, these very same signs carry another element that helps people who are legally blind, and these are tactile letters. These letters can also be felt with the fingertips and are used the same way as Braille, to assist visually impaired individuals in understanding what the sign says. These raised letters are placed on these signs for those who cannot read Braille, which are essentially those people who were not taught how to read Braille, or were too old to learn this series of dots since they lost their vision at a later age.

Few People Can Read Braille on Braille Signs

While there are a lot of Americans that do suffer from visual impairments, some inborn and others acquired, not that many people actually know how to read this dotted code found on signs, and in literature made specifically for those who cannot see. This was not the case in the past though. In the 1960s, around 50% of those considered legally blind could understand what these dots meant. These days, only a meager 10% are actually capable of reading these dotted translations, which means that there is a sharp decline in the number of people who can actually read Braille.

While 80% of legally blind individuals who are employed can read Braille, many visually impaired kids cannot read this, and this means that they are generally illiterate. This also means that in the future, very few working individuals with vision disabilities will be able to read Braille. This is due to the fact that these kids are in public schools where very few, if any, teachers know how to read and teach this dotted code. This is rather sad since, if the situation were reversed, people would not allow such a high percentage of illiteracy among sighted children.

Reasons for Putting Braille on Braille Signs

While there is a decline in the number of people who can read Braille, the National Federation of the Blind is looking to increase the number of children that can read Braille through a literacy campaign. This will mean that more adults in the future with vision impairments will be able to read this dotted code. This, however, is not the reason why Braille is still being put on ADA signs.

The reason why Braille is still being used on these Braille signs, despite the low number of people who can actually utilize it, is because it is the law and is part of the ADA’s guidelines for signage. The ADA after all is a set of rules that ensure there is equality among Americans, and even if only a few can actually read Braille, this few are still Americans who need to understand what these signs say. Just as not all visually impaired people can read Braille, not all visually impaired individuals can read tactile alphanumeric characters too. You should also know that neglecting to provide blind people who can read Braille the means to understand ADA signs is actually a violation of the law and can lead to repercussions such as fines. 

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