I asked Clare to write this piece for the blog just to explain and if you are a UK citizen and wish to add your signature to the petition you can link to it here.
If any fellow bloggers feel able to give it a mention too I know Clare and many others would be very grateful.Please feel free to copy and paste what she has written here onto your own site if you wish.
My name is Clare Gailans. I am totally blind and have used braille as my means of literacy since starting school at five, that's to say for over 40 years. I have always told people what a wonderful system braille is, and had imagined it would always be offered to those who need to use it to read. Technology makes it very much quicker to produce now, and the Disability Discrimination Act requires information to be produced in it if it is the most appropriate format for the recipient.
This is all very well for us adults, but it is becoming clear that shortages of qualified personnel, money, or perhaps just plain arrogance, are creating a situation in many mainstream schools where blind children are not taught braille, and those with useful sight are often denied it until their sight has further deteriorated. By this time many of them already hate reading, which is a huge extra strain on them throughout the school day - a stressful time for many children at the best of times.
Without first learning to read words I could not have mastered music through braille notation, which has been the key to my employment for the past 25 years, and my obtaining a degree in music from Cambridge before that. Braille has also been the difference for my husband and me, through such activities as music and chess, between being merely tolerated in the sighted community and being fully accepted, indeed sometimes looked up to, for our contributions.
It has helped me in a variety of voluntary activities, and to instil a love of reading in our two sighted children. I could not run our household efficiently witout it, in every department from cooking to labelling the many reams of paper which have to be filed, and which without braille would all feel identical.