Louis Braille

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Bust of Louis Braille.

Louis Braille (4 January 1809 – 6 January 1852) was a French educator and the inventor of a reading and writing system, named braille after him, intended for use by visually impaired people. His system is used worldwide and remains virtually unchanged to this day.[1]

Braille was blinded at the age of three in one eye as a result of an accident with a stitching awl in his father's harness making shop. Consequently, an infection set in and spread to both eyes, resulting in total blindness. At that time there were not many resources in place for the blind, but he nevertheless excelled in his education and received a scholarship to France's Royal Institute for Blind Youth. While still a student there, he began developing a system of tactile code that could allow blind people to read and write quickly and efficiently. Inspired by a system invented by Charles Barbier, Braille's new method was more compact and lent itself to a range of uses, including music. He presented his work to his peers for the first time in 1824, when he was fifteen years old.[2]

In adulthood, Braille served as a professor at the Institute and had an avocation as a musician, but he largely spent the remainder of his life refining and extending his system. It went unused by most educators for many years after his death, but posterity has recognized braille as a revolutionary invention, and it has been adapted for use in languages worldwide.[3]


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