There’s been a great thread on #Twitter about pointless #Braille. Can there be such a thing? Yes, but should the question be; in the digital age is there any point to Braille? Put it another way, is there any point to literacy?

Studies show that if you are blind and a Braille reader, you are more likely to achieve academically and find and keep employment as compared to people who rely solely on voice synthesizers.

Imagine a world in which no one learnt to read and write. How would anyone be able to get from “A” to “B”, read the critical instruction on the back of a packet to “keep out of the reach of children” or text one’s beloved under the table during a “all phones off” meeting of the board?

It’s the same with Braille. Braille delivers literacy in a way which the synthetic voice can never do. It teaches grammar and syntax and all that other good stuff. It’s the note on the back of a packet that means you don’t mistake pain killers for laxatives. Just like learning to read and write, Braille opens a door to independence for anyone who can’t see enough to read the printed word.

These days you can invest in a #digital Braille display, which means you don’t have to lug all those trees around with you, and no one will know when you write a note to self to remind yourself that So and So “is a total moron” because you might have your Braille display discretely perched on the table in front of you, or on your lap. A synthesizer might blurt out your secret.

Braille has to be close at hand for the hands to do the reading, or no one will ever be able to read it, which brings me back to pointless Braille which is not the same thing at all as “the point of Braille”. I think I’ve proved my case on that score.

In an office I know there is a great big Braille sign on the wall. It’s painted on the wall. No one with sight who comes into the office knows what it says so the temptation is to ask a passing blind person. They don’t know either because the dots aren’t raised. I like to think that whoever put it there wrote “beans make you fart”.

If all of those beans get a bit too much, spare a thought for the desperate as they search for the door to the bathroom. Imagine the Braille on the door being too high to reach. Let’s hope the door doesn’t open towards you as you desperately seek a clue to what lurks behind it. Then there’s the Braille sign on a door that read, “do not stand in front of this door. It opens outwards”.

I love the Braille signs hanging off chains from the ceiling, too high to comfortably reach but just the right height to smash your head against. If you have any complaints pick up the laminated card that gives instructions on how to make a complaint. The laminator doesn’t do Braille so it’s BIG dots!

In the pointless Braille stories that turned out not to be pointless at all, my top one is the drive through ATM.

When the Son was a teenager his need for easy money was such that I could barter a trip to the supermarket for one to the cashpoint. He’d drive me to the ATM with Braille keypad fitted as standard and I’d nip out and withdraw the cash. Everyone has to find a way to pay for their children’s driving lesson after all, because even teenage have their uses.