"The Death of Braille" - Appropriate, or Ominous?

A fascinating article in the New York Times Magazine explains that knowlege about and usage of Braille by visually impaired people is declining as they shift to electronic means of acquiring information.

The trend is real and significant; nowadays fewer than 1 in 10 blind children learn Braille.  Part of the problem is that Braille is intrinsically an inconvenient medium:
Braille books are expensive and cumbersome, requiring reams of thick, oversize paper. The National Braille Press, an 83-year-old publishing house in Boston, printed the Harry Potter series on its Heidelberg cylinder; the final product was 56 volumes, each nearly a foot tall.

The replacements for Braille are audiobooks, computer text-to-speech, and other auditory technologies.  The upside for the visually impaired is a much more rapid acquisition of knowledge.  The potential downside is a flawed understanding of language itself.
“What we’re finding are students who are very smart, very verbally able — and illiterate,” Jim Marks, a board member for the past five years of the Association on Higher Education and Disability, told me.  "Now their writing is phonetic and butchered. They never got to learn the beauty and shape and structure of language.”

Horror stories circulating around the convention featured children who don’t know what a paragraph is or why we capitalize letters or that “happily ever after” is made up of three separate words.

The question extends well beyond obvious things like spelling words or distinguishing homonyms to the broader concept that the acquisition of the ability to read actually shapes the brain itself, and that people from literate societies actually think differently from members of oral societies.

Link.  Image credit Tom Schierlitz.

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i am a visually impaired teenager who has grown reading braille and print. my teachers think i have the best linguistic skills in my class. if i write in braille i use punctuation, and use full paragraghs. it really depends on how the studen is taughe.
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This is basically my thesis topic. The concensus of low vision teachers is that the students shouldn't be taught braille unless the child absolutely cannot read any print whatsoever or their condition will for sure worsen. The schools actually make the TVIs prove that braille is absolutely necessary or they won't allow it to be taught. I just don't get that.

I just don't understand people like zeezaxa who think that blind/low vision people are just fine being illiterate. We have audio technology for sighted kids, too. It would be much cheaper and easier for schools to not bother teaching anyone to read - just be a listening society. Can anyone say "Baaaa?"
Hmmm, hope the electricity doesn't go out!
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I rescued from cassette this talk that Marshall McLuhan gave at Johns Hopkins University in the mid 1970s. I have not found an audio file of this talk anywhere online. So far as I know it's an original contribution to the archive of McLuhan audio. Enjoy. Rare McLuhan Audio
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Zeezaxa, The unemployment stats as I understand it are for blind people of working age with no other disabilities. As far as pausing a tape ... Though it can be done, I don't know anyone who sits with their hand on their book readers ready to push the button. Often I am too involved in the train of thoughts to get to the point of pausing the machine. Many people, including myself, report having difficulty staying awake when switching to audio learning. There is a direct link with print and Braille that is instantaneous. I still think you're awfully hard on people who are listening and don't get the differences between words. These are examples of how auditory lerners are missing and are not educated about the subtle differences in language. If I had always relied on listening, I would think I had a "next store" neighbor. Your remedies of using computer programs to fix illiterate writing miss the fact that Spell Check makes mistakes and relies on the writer to know if they used the proper word. If I type "I have already purchased all of my Christmas presence," the only way for that mistake to be noticed is for me to anticipate those sorts of mistakes and deliberately spell out the words, something I would only think to do if I knew that there are two different spellings of the word. We are in fundamental disagreement about the value of the written word, so let's just wish each other well in our own beliefs.
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