CNIB and Braille200 join global organizations in celebrating Louis Braille's 200th birthday

    TORONTO, Jan. 7 /CNW/ - In 2009, CNIB and Braille200 will join
organizations around the world in celebrating the 200th anniversary of Louis
Braille's birth. Braille, born on January 4, 1809, in Coupvray, France,
invented the raised dot code that bears his name. In so doing, he made it
possible for millions of people living with vision loss around the world to
read and write alongside their sighted counterparts.
    Canadian festivities will begin with a birthday bash in Braille's honour,
hosted by CNIB in Toronto on January 16. The event will kick off a year of
celebrations that will include braille exhibits at the Canada Museum of
Science and Technology in Ottawa and La Grande Bibliothèque in Montreal,
educational and awareness programs such as library reading series and
read-a-thons, and various braille competitions including a special
international essay competition around the theme "Technology as a Bridge to
Braille Literacy."
    "Being able to read and write enables all individuals to communicate in
today's world at a higher level," says Euclid Herie, Chair of Braille200 and
President of the World Braille Foundation. "For those with vision loss,
braille equals literacy. Braille can open the door of opportunity on many
levels from finding meaningful employment to living full, productive and
culturally-rich lives. For this reason, the 200th anniversary of Louis
Braille's birth is a momentous occasion which we are proud to acknowledge and
celebrate in Canada."
    The January 16 kick-off celebration will also feature the launch of two
major Canadian contributions to the Braille bicentennial. Award-winning
singer-songwriter Terry Kelly will give a debut performance of "Merci Louis,"
a song he has written specially for the occasion. Kelly, best known for his
Remembrance Day ballad "A Pittance of Time," is himself blind and serves as
Chair of the Canadian Braille Literacy Foundation.
    Celebrating Braille: A Canadian Approach, the first Canadian Braille
textbook produced in almost 50 years, will also be unveiled on January 16.
Written by Myra Rodriques, Florence Carter and Rosie Zampese, the textbook
guides new readers through a step-by-step approach to learning braille, using
Canadian content and up-to-date vocabulary from "Iqaluit" to "iPod."
    "Braille's longevity is a testament to its versatility and success in
offering those of us who cannot see a gateway to higher learning and
achievement," says Jim Sanders, President & CEO, CNIB. "In this digital age,
braille is more relevant than ever before, but we are still far from achieving
true equality when it comes to the availability of reading materials in
braille. That's why CNIB is committed to playing a leadership role in
promoting braille literacy, teaching, learning and access."
    Further information on the Braille200 anniversary celebrations planned
across Canada can be found by visiting or

    About braille

    Braille is not a language but a code by which all languages may be
written and read. It is a system of touch reading and writing that uses raised
dots to represent the letters of the print alphabet for people who are blind
or have vision loss. Louis Braille invented the six-dot braille system at the
age of 15 while a student at the Royal Institution for Blind Youth in Paris.
Dissatisfied with the raised letter, coded system used to promote literacy for
students with vision loss, Braille created his own system of six dots that can
be read with one's fingertips. Today, the braille code is used in practically
every country around the world.

    About CNIB

    CNIB is a nationwide, community-based, registered charity committed to
public education, research and the vision health of all Canadians. CNIB
provides the services and support necessary to enjoy a good quality of life
while living with vision loss. Through advocacy work and a world-renowned
library, CNIB is working to give Canadians living with vision loss access to
the alternative format reading materials they need for lifelong learning. The
CNIB Library contains more than 80,000 titles in braille, printbraille and
talking book format, descriptive videos, newspapers and magazines as well as
telephone, reference and online services. To find out more, visit
or call 1-800-563-2642.

    About Braille200

    Braille200 is the Canadian banner under which bicentenary celebrations
are being planned and organized by the World Braille Foundation (WBF) in
cooperation with CNIB, the World Blind Union, the Canadian Braille Literacy
Foundation, the Canadian Braille Authority, Bibliothèque et Archives
nationales du Québec and other literacy groups in Canada. Chaired by Euclid
Herie, CM, President of WBF, a group of prominent Canadians drawn from the
braille community is working to ensure Canada assumes a leadership role in
promoting braille literacy, teaching, learning and access to braille
materials. Visit to learn more about Louis Braille and
celebrations of his bicentenary in Canada and around the world.

For further information:

For further information: Media Contact: Norma Meneguzzi Spall, The
Results Group, O: (416) 686-9110, C: (416) 209-1216, or
Yeena Peng, CNIB, (416) 486-2500 ext. 8355,

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