Louis Braille was born January 4, 1809 in a small town east of Paris, France.
As a small child he was blinded in an accident, however he developed a mastery over that blindness.
Then, at the young age of 15, Braille created a revolutionary form of communication that has transcended blindness ever since by transforming millions of lives.
Braille was determined to fashion a system of reading and writing that could bridge the critical gap in communication between the sighted and the blind.
In 1821, at the young age of 12, Braille learned of a communication system devised by Captain Charles Barbier of the French Army. Barbier’s invention called “night writing” was a code of dots and dashes impressed into thick paper, . These impressions could be interpreted entirely by the fingers, letting soldiers share information on the battlefield without having light or needing to speak.
Barbier’s code turned out to be too complex to use in its original military form, but it inspired Braille to develop a system of his own.
Braille created his own raised-dot system by using an awl, the same kind of implement which had blinded him as a child.
Braille worked tirelessly on his ideas, and his system was largely completed by 1824.
He published his Braille system in 1829, and by his second edition of 1837 had discarded the dashes because they were too difficult to read.
In Braille’s own words;
“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.”
Although Braille was admired and respected by those he taught his system to, his writing system was not taught by others during his lifetime.
Braille died Januray 6, 1852, two years before his system was finally adapted.
Two centuries after Braille, his system remains an invaluable tool of learning and communicating for the blind.
Now WE know em