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Interesting Facts About Louis Braille: Inventor of the Braille Alphabet System

Rujuta Patil Mar 20, 2020
Louis Braille, who had lost his vision as a child, developed a code for the blind to read, at the age of 15. It was adopted by the National Institute for Blind Youth, Paris, in 1854. Due to the efforts of Dr. Thomas Rhodes Armitage, Braille reached many countries around the 1870s.

Slate and Stylus

This is the pair of tools used by the blind for writing text they can read without any aid. Placing a paper in the slate, an awl (stylus) is used to make depressions. Once done with the writing, the paper is removed from the slate, and read with the reverse side up.

Who was Louis Braille?

Louis Braille was born on January 4, 1809, in Coupvray, France. He is known for his path-breaking innovation of Braille, the reading and writing system used by blind people, which has been adapted according to different languages spoken in the world.
He developed the first final code in 1824, at the age of 15. This Braille system was published in 1829, with an inclusion of musical notes too.

Louis Braille Was Himself Blind

Louis's father made leather equipment. While playing around in his father's workshop, Louis tried to hole a piece of leather using an awl.
The three-year-old pressed quite hard, and the awl suddenly came through the piece of leather, hitting his eye. Despite the best possible treatment, his other eye got infected too, and he became completely blind by the age of five.

History of the Braille Alphabet

The Braille writing system is based on Night Writing, the tactile military code using 12-dot symbol. This code could not be touched by a human finger in one go. So Louis Braille cut it down to 6-dot cells.
The Grade-2 Braille, or the English Braille used today was completely developed in 1905. Most earlier methods used raised prints, but the Braille system was particularly successful as it was designed primarily for fingertip identification, unlike other visual identification symbols.

How Does The Braille System Work?

The Braille system uses raised dots to represent printed alphabets, which the blind recognize by touch reading and writing.
There are in all 64 Braille cells (each made of 6 dots); different dot patterns and symbols express all alphabets, numerals, punctuation marks, abbreviations, and even mathematical characters, music, and foreign languages.

What is Charles Barbier's Night Writing System?

The 'Night Writing' or 'Ecriture Nocturne' was a military code specifically asked to be developed by Napoleon for soldiers to silently communicate in the dark.
It used 12 dots - 6 vertical and 2 wide. Too long to be felt by the fingertip at once, Louis Braille improvised on it, and the 6-dot system was born.

Professor and Musician Louis Braille

Louis Braille had received a scholarship to the Royal Institute for Blind Youth in Paris. There he taught history, geometry, and algebra for many years.
A cellist and organist, he published his first book 'Method of Writing Words, Music, and Plain Songs by Means of Dots, for Use by the Blind and Arranged for Them', in 1829, which was made to suit the requirements of any instrument. His works also include 'Little Synopsis of Arithmetic for Beginners' and 'New Method for Representing by Dots ...'.