Did you know that Louis Braille was born today in 1809? He was a French teacher and inventor. Despite losing his vision when he was 5, he was still very curious and excelled in his studies. It was very hard for the blind to learn how to read or write, Braille was determined to find a better way. He created a system of six raised dots, different combinations of the dots represent different letters and numbers. That system of writing is now known as braille.
We hope that you have a visionary day at school today. Remember to think kind thoughts, use kind words, and do kind things. We Love You.
While playing with an awl in his father’s workshop, Braille was injured when an awl glanced off of a piece of leather and struck him in one eye. Despite the efforts of a surgeon in Paris, the eye could not be saved and became infected. The infection spread to his other eye and eventually by five he was completely blind in both eyes. His parents were very supportive of him and tried their best to give him a normal childhood and upbringing.
The school Braille attended was the Royal Institute for Blind Youth (now the National Institute for Blind Youth). Braille was such a good student that he was asked to stay as a teacher. His reading and writing technique were not taught, and actively discouraged, during his lifetime, but is now the universal code used around the world.
The reading system initially used to teach the blind was devised by Valentin Haüy. He was not blind, but devoted his life to finding ways to assist the blind. The books he created were made by pressing wet paper against copper wire shaped into letters. The books were very large, hard to construct, and fragile. As a result there were a very limited number of books. Nevertheless, his books, while cumbersome, showed that the blind could use touch as a way to ‘read’.
Captain Charles Barbier had devised a system of ‘night writing’ to allow soldiers to communicate in the dark. It was comprised of a mix of 12 dashes or dots. Braille simplified this system, reduced the number to 6 dots and removed the dashes. The set of dots could be ‘read’ by a single fingertip.
Louis Braille said:
Access to communication in the widest sense is access to knowledge, and that is vitally important for us if we [the blind] are not to go on being despised or patronized by condescending sighted people. We do not need pity, nor do we need to be reminded we are vulnerable. We must be treated as equals – and communication is the way this can be brought about.
Louis Braille was also an accomplished musician. He played the cello and pianist. He played the organ for churches all over France.
Louis Braille was named as one of the 100 most influential inventors of all time. He has been commemorated on postage stamps, coins, asteroids, and much more.