Press Statement by the Director-General, Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), Dr. John O. Asein, in Commemoration of the World Braille Day, 4th January 2024

 Today, January 4, marks the birth, in 1809, of the French inventor, educator and musician, Louis Braille who, as a young blind boy, invented the system of notation that bears his name and has given millions of blind and visually impaired persons access to writing, reading and quality education. The day was officially declared by the United Nations in 2018 as World Braille Day in memory of Louis Braille and in recognition of his revolutionary invention and gift to humanity. It is also an opportunity to reflect on the challenges faced by millions of blind and visually impaired persons all over the world.

The theme of this year’s celebration: “Empowering Through Inclusion and Diversity,” underscores the importance of inclusiveness and the recognition of our diversities as tools for empowerment. It reminds us of the need for a better world in which blind and visually impaired persons are not only acknowledged but fully integrated into all aspects of society. The theme also draws attention to the transformative power of the diversity of talents, skills and competence that abound amongst the blind and visually impaired. As epitomized by the life of Louis Braille, who became blind at age 4, but lived a fulfilled life and contributed immensely to the field of education, everyone, irrespective of physical disability, can thrive and contribute meaningfully to society.

By inventing the alphabet system involving the use of specially arranged raised sets of dots to represent different alphabets, young Louis, at the age 15, confronted his challenges and developed a solution that enabled blind people to engage in unassisted reading and writing using their fingers rather than eyes. His life should therefore inspire children and young persons to remain resilient in the face of disability and draw on their strength to innovate and find solutions to the problems around them.

Parents, guardians, teachers and all who are responsible for the education of children should realize that blindness and visual impairment is never an excuse to exclude any child from education and learning. With the help of modern technology, blind and visually impaired persons can now have access to learning materials on a wide range of platforms. However, braille remains a very important and enduring medium. I therefore use the occasion of this year’s World Braille Day to urge all concerned to pay more attention to braille literacy and ensure that blind and visually impaired children, like the sighted, have unhindered access to reading materials for learning and literary enjoyment.