A Daredevil wish for Braille Day

Jan 4, 2023

A Daredevil wish for Braille Day

Jan 4, 2023

So, today is apparently World Braille Day! I feel like I should be on top of these kinds of things, but in my defense, it’s only been one of those “international days” officially observed by the UN since 2019. On the other hand, it’s had some kind of semi-official status before then, and falls on Louis Braille’s birthday (he was born on January 4, 1809). Either way, I was reminded by a fellow fan and since it’s my intention to spend more time around the blog, I will happily take this opportunity to put together a quick post.

I will start by saying that this isn’t the first time I’ve touched on the topic of braille – within and beyond the Daredevil comic and show. New readers may be interested in The Daredevil fan’s guide to braille history, which gives a fairly extensive look at how braille came to be, and why it became so popular (eventually).

Of course, the role of braille in Matt Murdock’s life is complicated by the fact that he can read print by touch, and I talk quite a bit about the extent to which this makes sense in my book. To make a long story short, I find the idea that Matt can do this at all (provided that certain conditions are met) to be easier to swallow than the assertion – common enough in the early comics in particular – that reading print would be no more difficult than reading braille. Reducing the use of braille to merely a part of Matt’s “ruse” goes much too far in my mind, and strains credulity needlessly.

Another thing to consider is that braille might actually be in need of a superhero who can give it some extra visibility. To quote myself, from “Being Matt Murdock”:

“[…] far from all blind people read braille. People who lose some or all of their sight at an older age, which is the majority of the visually impaired population, may not be willing or able to spend the considerable time and effort it takes to learn the skill well as an adult. Other tools have also come on the scene, such as text-to-speech technology and recorded audio materials.
Even among children with vision impairments, the amount of residual vision they have usually determines whether they receive any braille instruction. Sadly, many of the school-aged children who might benefit from learning to read braille are being denied this opportunity. The National Federation of the blind are even talking about a braille literacy crisis.
While it lies beyond the scope of this book to go too far into the details, some of the numbers here are worth noting. According to a 2010 study, twelve percent of those who are legally blind in the United States can read braille. In the 1960s, when the Daredevil comic made its debut, that number was 50 percent. According to data from 2015, fewer than ten percent of blind school-aged children are currently learning braille. This despite the fact that findings consistently show that knowing braille is positively correlated with employment, level of education, and income, as well as other quality of life outcomes in blind adults.”

Of course, there are obvious narrative reasons to make reading braille central to the depiction of Matt Murdock, and these are just as important. This is also where the Daredevil television show went above and beyond the comic book status quo. There is no hedging around the topic of braille, or the use of assistive technology, and this gives us a more modern take on the character.

My wish, on the topic of braille specifically, is that the creators behind the upcoming Daredevil: Born Again, as well as the people behind all of Matt Murdock’s other upcoming outings, will continue in the vein of the original show. That they keep in mind that, whatever the character’s skills and heightened senses, braille has a natural role to play in Matt’s life. This would also go well with what I hope to be a more serious treatment of his legal career. I know I’m not the only one who would have been happy so see a bit more of Matt himself doing legal work, as opposed to leaving much of it to Foggy and Karen.

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