Braille, still a minority reading method

This is an initiative led by the Braille transcription and publishing center (CTEB), France’s main braille printer. Books from its catalog have been available since Wednesday January 4 at the same price as classic works, such as the latest title by Virginie Despentes Dear asshole or the Harry Potter saga. And this, despite the high cost of manufacturing these works which use the reading method developed in the 19th century.

“We had to invent something other than simple letters in relief, which would have had to be very large to be read by the fingers”explains Adeline Coursant, director of the CTEB, to contextualize the origin of braille, in 1829. Objective of Louis Braille, himself suffering from blindness: to create a sensory alphabet in order to allow blind and visually impaired people to also access reading and education.

Each letter is made up of six dots, some of which are raised. “According to the arrangement of the dots and those that stand out to the touch, a blind person is able to recognize the letter. » This therefore presupposes a sensory sensitivity in order to detect the arrangement of the points by the fingertip.

Faced with Braille, sensory intuition differs

The “brawlers” are therefore not equal as to the way of apprehending this code. A person blind from birth will learn from an early age to master reading. This is the case of Théo Pichard, 22 years old and from Plouédern (Finistère). From the age of three, he was able to decipher braille. “By being blind as a child, our sense of touch is more developed. I was able to distinguish the difference between grains with my fingers! So braille came naturally”he laughs.

As for learning to read, the young Breton did not feel disadvantaged compared to his sighted friends. “I learned to read like them, that is to say, by separating the syllables. » He knows he is lucky. “A person who becomes blind during their lifetime will not have the same sensory dispositions and will have more difficulty reading Braille. »

Disaffection for braille on paper

But, while he welcomes the fall in the price of books in Braille, Théo admits that he does not feel concerned by the CTEB’s initiative. He is a reader, of course, but cultivates himself mainly with the help of his specialized computer. “If I only read digitally, it’s because the files offer a greater range of works than physical books. » According to him, it would be better to act on the price of the equipment which remains expensive. “The brawlers are rather concerned about the price of the computers on which one reads more. Mine cost €7,000…”

Especially since the number of people who master Braille remains low. According to figures provided by the Federation of the Blind in France, 1.7 to 2 million people are visually impaired in mainland France, and only 15% of them, or between 255,000 and 300,000 people, read Braille.


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