A position paper on researching braille in the cognitive sciences: decentering the sighted norm

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2023
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Cambridge University Press
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This article positions braille as a writing system worthy of study in its own right and on its own terms. We begin with a discussion of the role of braille in the lives of those who read and write it and a call for more attention to braille in the reading sciences. We then give an overview of the history and development of braille, focusing on its formal characteristics as a writing system, in order to acquaint sighted print readers with the basics of braille and to spark further interest among reading researchers. We then explore how print-centric assumptions and sight-centric motivations have potentially negative consequences, not only for braille users but also for the types of questions researchers think to pursue. We conclude with recommendations for conducting responsible and informed research about braille. We affirm that blindness is most equitably understood as but one of the many diverse ways humans experience the world. Researching braille literacy from an equity and diversity perspective provides positive, fruitful insights into perception and cognition, contributes to the typologically oriented work on the world’s writing systems, and contributes to equity by centering the perspectives and literacy of the people who read and write braille.

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Englebretson, Robert, Holbrook, M. Cay and Fischer-Baum, Simon. "A position paper on researching braille in the cognitive sciences: decentering the sighted norm." Applied Psycholinguistics, 44, no. 3 (2023) Cambridge University Press: 400-415. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0142716423000061.

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