Throughout history there have been people who contributed to life, as we know it today. Could you imagine if Thomas Edison never invented the light bulb? Today we honor the birthday of another famous inventor, Louis Braille. He changed the lives of blind people across the world.
Louis Braille was born on January 4, 1809 in Coupvray, France. At the age of 3, Louis injured his eye while playing with a sharp tool in his father’s shop. An infection soon spread to both eyes, leaving him blind.
When he was ten, he entered the Royal Institute for Blind Youth in Paris, the world’s first school for blind children. There he would live, study, create a system for reading and writing and later teach.
Prior to braille, blind students read by tracing raised print letters with their fingers. This was a painfully slow process and few mastered the technique. Louis wanted a better way to represent print letters and numbers. He was inspired by the embossed dots used by the military to pass notes among ranks created by Charles Barbier. The army wasn’t impressed with this system so he brought it to the school for blind. From there Louis Braille trimmed the system from 12 dots to 6, he was only 12 years old.
By 1824, Louis had in place the code that bears his name. Now practically every country in the world uses braille and it has been adapted to almost every known language. Braille helps blind people get round in public spaces but most importantly allows blind people to communicate independently.
That is why our partner charity, the National Federation of the Blind strives to increase public awareness for this tool of independence. Although Braille is recognized as the most important development in obtaining a quality education for the blind, only 10 percent of blind children are given the opportunity to learn Braille in school.