Imagine being blind and away from home. It’s dark. You’re alone. There’s no moon tonight and only a glimmer of starlight. You hear the rumble of a train approaching.

The rumble becomes a roar. You’re right there on the train platform, your feet feeling the textured markings showing you where to stop.

You feel for the station sign. Braille letters and words form beneath your fingertips: Lisarow. It even tells you which direction to go. You breathe a sigh of relief. Only two stations to home.   


About World Braille Day

On January 4, we celebrate World Braille Day!

It’s estimated there are 453,000 people with blindness or low vision in Australia, according to Vision Australia.

Low vision is when people may need to be twice as close to see something. Blindness is when a person has little or no vision.

World Braille Day has been celebrated since 2019. It’s observed to raise awareness of the importance of Braille as a means of communication in the full realisation of human rights for blind and partially sighted people.

We at Narara Valley Medical thought it was a good opportunity to talk about braille, as well as your eye health. But let’s start at the beginning.

drawing of a manreading a braille hook at a desk in front of a yellow wall

What is Braille?

Braille is an amazing system that helps people who are blind or visually impaired to read and write. Named after its creator, Louis Braille, it’s like a secret code made up of raised dots that can be felt with the fingers.

Each braille character is made up of a combination of six dots arranged in two columns, with three dots in each column. These dots form different patterns that represent letters, numbers, punctuation marks, and even whole words. Just like the alphabet you’re used to, braille has its own unique characters that represent sounds in words.

poster of colourful braille tiles depicting the braille alpahebet from a to z.

Learning braille opens up a whole new world of reading and writing for those who can’t see with their eyes. Books, signs, menus, and even computer screens can be translated into braille, allowing everyone equal access to information.

In Australia, braille is an essential tool in schools and workplaces to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to learn and communicate. Many people learn braille alongside regular reading and writing to help them navigate the world around them.

What causes vision loss?

There is often a connection between eye problems and low vision. 

Often, this can be treated and support provided. Some common eye conditions include: 

  • Age-related macular degeneration 
  • Albinism 
  • Cataracts 
  • Glaucoma

Support and help is available. 

Age-related macular degeneration

The leading cause of vision loss in Australians over 40 is Age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Age-related macular degeneration can cause problems with close work like reading, writing, and watching TV. It can affect safe navigation and even seeing other people’s faces. 

AMD can also make it difficult to read things like menus and price tags. This can make going out for meals and going shopping challenging. 

How to keep your eyes healthy

If you are over 40, and feel signs of deteriorating eyesight, good on you for doing your best to keep your eyes healthy.

While they can’t reverse any existing damage, these few simple tips can help keep your eyes healthy.

  1. Stop smoking
  2. Eat a healthy diet
  3. Wear sunglasses
  4. Look away from computer screens
  5. Wear safety eyewear
  6. Get regular eye checkups

Digital Accessibility

Vision Australia is a pioneer in supporting people with blindness and low vision. It also has excellent tools like the Document Accessibility Toolbar which can be installed free of charge to help ensure your Word documents are accessible.

It is not only the sighted people who can read and understand websites and books. Digital accessibility is a human right and a legal obligation. The good news is that accessible documents are better for search engines like Google.

Accessible design is inclusive of everyone. Whether they can read with their eyes or use a screen reader, inclusive design is good design.

More information

Vision Australia offers technology, products, services, and support as well as Digital Accessibility Consulting for businesses and government. There is a Gosford branch of Vision Australia.

They offer complete training in braille.

Social links: Community groups for people with low or no vision exist in the Central Coast, Newcastle, and Hunter for people to connect and socialise.

If you suspect you have a problem with your eyes, please make an appointment to see your doctor at Narara Valley Medical or make an appointment with an optometrist for an eye test.


Remember, this article is general and doesn’t constitute advice. For personal medical advice, speak to your doctor at Narara Valley Medical.