Celebrate World Braille Day With Your Blind Patients – 5 Ideas For Student Nurses
January 4th 2016 is World Braille Day to commemorate the birth of Louis Braille. Louis is the mastermind behind the innovative system that allows for blind people around the world to still have the ability to read and write. Student nurses who have the privilege of working with the visually impaired can use this date as a way to connect with their patients.
World Braille Day may not be a national public holiday, but it is an opportunity for the community to raise awareness about the challenges they face and to encourage the continued production of works in Braille.
Louis Braille and the Evolution of the Braille System
Born fully sighted in 1809, Louis Braille lost full vision in both eyes by the age of five following an accident inside of his father’s shop. Managing to master the disability as a child he excelled at school and received a scholarship to attend France’s Royal Institute for Blind Youth.
Louis was inspired by the military cryptography of Charles Barbier, and began work on a tactile code system that allowed a blind person to read and write. Completed when he was only 15 years old, Louis presented his system to his peers at school where it was positively received. Five years later he published “Method of Writing Words, Music, and Plain Songs by Means of Dots, for Use by the Blind and Arranged for Them”.
While the visually impaired community embraced the Braille system, it took decades before it was universally accepted. Yet by the 1930s, it had become the standard for educating the blind around the world.
Celebrating Louis Braille’s Hard Work and Dedication
Student nurses who work with blind patients can use this anniversary as a way to celebrate the innovation of Braille and the way in which it has enhanced the lives of the visually impaired. Call attention to the importance of the day by engaging your patients in the following:
- Stage a Braille Book Club: Encourage your patients to recollect the first book in Braille that they read, and talk about the impact it had on their lives. Alternately you can take a quiz to determine the most commonly read work in the group and then engage in a conversation about the plot and characters. People often take it for granted that the visually impaired have never been exposed to great literature, yet you can provide a forum that allows them to share their joy of reading. This is an activity that Louis Braille surely would have supported.
- Create Book Covers: The blind create their own visions of the world inside of their mind. Provide your patients with an array of materials that they can use to create an image of how they perceive their favorite book cover to look. Make sure to use paper and cloth of different textures to encourage tactile creativity.
- Make Clay Models of Characters: If your facility allows, allow your blind patients to make sculptures of their favorite characters. For younger patients this can be done using simple play doh, while clay or even paper mache can be used with your older patients.
- Stage a Cooking Class: Bring to life a food or recipe that is mentioned in one of your patient’s favorite books. “Stone Soup” is one example that is used for young children, each of whom is invited to add an ingredient until the soup is complete. There are also recipes available to help recreate some of the culinary oddities found in the “Harry Potter” books for teens, while older patients may enjoy getting a taste of real “Fried Green Tomatoes”.
- Go on Reading Rounds: If your patients are of varying ages, it could be encouraging to have your older ones read aloud to younger patients. This will help them to learn to appreciate reading from a young age.
According to Louis Braille, communication is the key to the blind being treated as equals in the world. The most basic form of communication after the spoken word is the written word. In celebrating the birth of the man who gave this gift to the blind you are acknowledging that, as their nurse, you respect their ability to overcome their disadvantage and relish in the pleasure that reading provides.