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January is Braille literacy month in Oklahoma

Tuesday, January 09, 2024

 OKLAHOMA CITY – January is annually celebrated as Braille Literacy Month in honor of the birthday of Louis Braille, the creator of the tactile reading and writing system that bears his name.

Braille was born January 4, 1809.

For Oklahomans who are blind, learning to read and write Braille proficiently equals literacy, which is critical to achieving successful education, employment and a rich quality of life.

In Oklahoma, 128,900 individuals reported a visual disability, according to the U.S. Census Bureau 's 2019 American Community Survey estimates.

Not all of these Oklahomans know or need to learn Braille, but for those not able to use standard print, Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired and Oklahoma School for the Blind offer expert Braille training all year long.

Braille training programs offered by OSB and SBVI are free of charge to eligible Oklahomans.

Both SBVI and OSB are divisions of the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services.

“We celebrate Braille Literacy Month to create awareness about the importance of Braille and its benefits,“ SBVI Administrator Tracy Brigham said.

“Braille is composed of raised dots which are read with the fingertips,” Brigham explained. “The basic unit is an arrangement of six dots, two across and three down. Each dot or combination of dots represent letters of the print alphabet.”

“Once students understand the system, almost everyone can learn to read and write Braille,” said OSB Superintendent Rita Echelle said.

“The Braille equivalent of paper and pencil is the slate and stylus,” Echelle added.  “A Braille user inserts paper in the slate and makes tactile dots by pushing the pointed end of the stylus into the paper over evenly spaced depressions in the slate.  The paper bulges on the reverse side forming Braille cells that can be read with the fingertips.”

While the slate and stylus enable young students to learn to read write and compose sentences, expert Braille readers and writers of all ages often prefer Braille devices attached to computers or portable electronic note takers. This technology enables them to save and edit text, while Braille printers rapidly stamp Braille patterns on the page for mass distribution.

SBVI’s employment and independent living programs help clients adjust to vision loss through customized services, including instruction in Braille, orientation and mobility training, assistive technology use and career planning and employment services.

Oklahomans who are 55 years of age and older and legally blind can learn Braille and receive other services through SBVI’s Older Blind Independent Living Program, which includes in-home training and access to free group classes called Visually Impaired and Blindness Empowerment, or VIBE, at locations around the state. 

SBVI’s Oklahoma Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped mails free books and periodicals in Braille and audio formats to Oklahomans who can’t use standard print. The library’s Accessible Instructional Materials Center loans Braille, large print textbooks and specialized equipment to public school students with visual disabilities.

OSB provides expert Braille instruction as part of comprehensive educational programs for students on campus during the school week, those who commute daily from home and summer school students. 

The school’s curriculum meets all state-mandated educational requirements, plus students receive specialized instruction in orientation and mobility, low vision adaptive equipment and technology.

In addition, OSB offers free outreach services for students who attend local public schools. their families and educators. 

Legal blindness occurs when vision with best correction is 20/200 or less or when side vision results in a field restriction of 20 degrees of less.

For more information about Oklahoma School for the Blind, visit or phone 877-229-7136.

To reach Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired, visit or phone 800-487-4042 to reach the nearest office.

The Oklahoma Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped is available at or 800-523-0288. 


For more information

Jody Harlan, DRS Communications Director

Cell: 405-203-1318