Houston Matters

Experts Gathering In Houston To Discuss How Braille Is Taught – And What It Can Teach Us

We learn about a gathering in Houston of researchers and educators to discuss Braille, the writing system that allows people who are blind to read by touch.

Braille Writing

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.

Robert Englebretson and Simon Fischer-Baum
Rice University’s Robert Englebretson (left), department chair and associate professor of linguistics, and Simon Fischer-Baum, assistant professor of psychology.

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Michael Hagerty

Senior Producer, Houston Matters

Michael Hagerty is the senior producer for Houston Matters. He's spent more than 20 years in public radio and television and dabbled in minor league baseball, spending four seasons as the public address announcer for the Reno Aces, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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