Braille is a tactile writing system used for people who are visually impaired. Traditionally its written on embossed paper and can also be used to read computer screens and other electronic supports using refreshable braille displays. They can write braille with the original slate and stylus or type it on a braille writer, such as a portable braille notetaker or computer that prints with a braille embosser.
Who created the Braille system? How did it come into existence?
Louis Braille is the creator of the Braille system. He was 3 and involved in an accident in his father’s tannery shop where he lost his eyesight. Born and brought up in a small village of France, called Couprvay there was no hospital nearby. His eyes were covered with a piece of cloth and was taken to the village healer. The herbal medicines didn’t work and his eye became infected and within a short time Louis became permanently blind in both the eyes.
Back in the days, most of the blind people were helpless. They had to depend on others. Only the wealthy or those of the upper class had amenities and money to spare for their further education and development.
What became of Louis?
Mr. Braille, Louis’s father carved a small cane for him to touch and feel his surroundings in front of him when he walked. When he turned 6, he was enrolled under the village priest who taught him for a year. All this while, Louis would feel left out and wanted to go to the other school with all the children.
And so, he did! He would ask his classmate to drop him to the school each morning. He would listen to the lesson and would memorise whatever he heard. He was there for a period of 3 years.
He soon became frustrated that he couldn’t read or write. The Priest and the Principal suggested a school in Paris, The Royal Institute of Blind Youth. Louis earned a scholarship and learnt to play the cello and piano. Since he didn’t know how to read and write he would try to memorise the note by listening and try to replicate them.
One day, a retired French Army Captain, Charles Barbier, came to visit the school. He had invented a method for soldiers to send messages to each other at night without the need of light or talking. With a pointed tool, the captain punched dots and dashes into heavy paper. The dots and dashes represented different sounds. These marks were combined to form words and could be read without light or sound. But the soldiers found it too difficult to use. The captain thought blind students might be able to use it instead. This is what Louis Braille worked on over the years to finally develop the Braille system.
He died in Paris in 1852 due to Tuberculosis.
Two years later, the French government approved the dot system. It was called “Braille” after Louis’ last name. In 1878, the World Congress for the Blind voted to make Braille the system of reading and writing for all blind people worldwide. With the help of the United Nations, Braille has been adapted to almost every known language.
Here’s to the conviction shown by Louis Braille and leading an exemplary life paving way for the coming generations!
Cheers to Louis Braille!