National Braille Week celebrated at Scottish Parliament

Posted: 14/10/2015 | Education,

For this year’s National Braille Week, Royal Blind was invited to the Scottish Parliament by Dennis Robertson MSP to hold an exhibition on the 6-8th of October, and to host an event celebrating the development of braille on the 6th of October.  

The exhibition gave MSPs, and Parliamentary staff, an opportunity to gain a better understanding of the history of braille, and why it continues to be important for visually impaired people today. Many MSps were intrigued to have their first touch of printed braille, and to learn of how new technology has made the use of braille more adaptable to modern life.

The Parliamentary reception on Tuesday 6th of October, hosted by Dennis Robertson, treated attendees, including Alex Salmond MP, to a multi-sensory experience of braille.

We were delighted to welcome Sue Reid Sexton, a trailblazer for accessible format books. The Braille version of Sue's upcoming book ‘Writing On The Road, Campervan Love and the Joys of Solitude’ will be published in Braille at the same time as it is released in text next April. The audience was treated to an excerpt of this book simultaneously read in braille and text with Sue accompanied by the Scottish Braille Press’s Jim McCafferty, demonstrating an able capability to keep up in braille.

Performers included Andrew Pettigrew, a 15 year pupil and resident poet at the Royal Blind School, who read his poem inspired by a visit to Louis Braille’s birthplace ‘Who is my Hero’, which greatly moved many in the audience. Musician and former pupil Amy Moar memorably made use of a Perkins brailler during her performance of original composition ‘Letter to Louis.’

Derek Albiston, of Novo Prints commented that he had enjoyed;

‘An enlightening evening spent with engaging, talented people; an altogether humbling, emotional experience.’

In his welcome address, Dennis remarked to the audience that the week’s events at the Parliament; ‘gives you a sense of the level of importance that this (Scottish) Parliament has for Royal Blind.’ The reception was attended by a cross party group of MSPS, including George Adam, Paisley’s MSP, Nanette Milne and Christian Allard.

Royal Blind were particularly pleased that National Braille Week’s reception and exhibition raised awareness amongst MSPs of the services which Royal Blind provides, in the wake of the recent Education Committee report ‘Attainment of pupils with a sensory impairment.’

The report confirmed the continued need to develop the knowledge of teachers working with visually impaired pupils in mainstream schools. Many MSPs and supporters attending the reception and exhibition were interested to hear how Royal Blind’s new service ‘The Learning Hub’ will contribute to improving the attainment of visually impaired children in Scotland.

Next year’s National Braille Week will be held on 10th-14th of October 2016, coinciding with World Sight Day on the 13th of October. Royal Blind will be considering any ideas to celebrate and raise awareness of braille.

If you have ideas for an event, or for comments and further information, contact Hannah Mitchell at