Braille, the writing system that allows people who are blind or have other visual impairments to read by touch, was once greatly understudied by the academic community.
This began to change with new research that emerged two decades ago showing that the brain's visual cortex lights up when people who are born blind read Braille. That revelation changed a lot of what we know about the brain.
Some Rice University researchers are hoping to further expand what Braille can teach us about our minds — and to advance how the visually impaired are educated — by holding a three-day conference on Braille research and education March 8-10.
Houston Matters producer Michael Hagerty talks with Rice University's Robert Englebretson, department chair and associate professor of linguistics, and Simon Fischer-Baum, assistant professor of psychology, about what scientists have learned from studying Braille's effect on the brain and what more they hope to accomplish by bringing together Braille researchers and educators from around the world.