Less than 10% of blind Americans know how to read Braille, and just 10% of blind children are being taught the printed language, the AP reports. A study by the National Federation of the Blind also pegs Braille illiteracy to unemployment. While the blind population faces 70% unemployment overall, that number drops to 44% in Braille readers.
Advances in audio books and voice-recognition have edged Braille out of curriculums, but advocates say there’s no replacement for being literate. “If that were good enough for everybody,” one mother said of audio books, “why do we spend millions of dollars teaching people to read?” A greater commitment is needed, said the NFB’s president: “You can find good teachers of the blind in America, but you can’t find good programs.”