Access to Biblical Languages Promotes Braille Literacy

About Sarah Blake LaRose

Sarah Blake LaRose is a freelance writer and a professor of Biblical Hebrew at Anderson University School of Theology in Anderson, Indiana. She is one of three blind academic scholars who received the Jacob Bolotin Award from the National Federation of the Blind in 2016 in recognition of innovative work in the field of access to biblical language texts and tools for people who are blind.

A group of scholars who are blind, known as the Semitic scholars, is working to increase access to Biblical language texts and resources by developing braille codes and encouraging accessibility of technologies. As a member of this group, my goal is to see that no one is denied the opportunity to learn languages like Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, Syriac, etc, because of blindness. In my speech to the Indiana chapter of the National Federation of the Blind, I told the story of how I came to work with the Semitic Scholars.

I often read in articles that someone thinks that braille is becoming obsolete because it is so much easier to use devices that read aloud. As a professor of languages and as a member of the Semitic scholars group, I want to say categorically that success with oral material is most possible when a person has a good foundation with some kind of reading medium. Braille is the blind person’s equivalent to print. If you would not give up your print, then never make the statement that braille is obsolete. It should not be so; and if it appears so, it is only because of budgetary constraints. If you love to have words in front of your eyes in any form, then help people who are blind preserbe the opportunity to have words under their fingers by advocating and by donating to organizations that provide texts in braille.