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Fascinating facts about
Louis Braille inventor of Braille in 1824.
Louis Braille
AT A GLANCE:

Louis Braille was accidentally blinded in one eye at the age of three. Within two years, a disease in his other eye left him completely blind. When he was fifteen, he developed an ingenious system of reading and writing by means of raised dots. Today, in virtually every language throughout the world, Braille is the standard form of writing and reading used by visually impaired persons.
THE STORY
RELATED INFO
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WHERE TO FIND
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HOW IT WORKS
DID YOU KNOW?
Inventor: Louis Braille
 Louis Braille image © Vaunt Design Group
Criteria: First practical. Modern day prototype.
Birth: January 4, 1809 in Coupvray, France
Death: January 6, 1852 in Paris, France
Nationality: French
Invention: Braille in 1824
TGIF in braille 6-dot cell © Vaunt Design Group
Function: noun / named for its inventor Louis Braille
Definition: Braille is a tactile writing system used by blind people. Braille generally consists of cells of 6 raised dots conventionally numbered and the presence or absence of dots gives the coding for the symbol.
Milestones:
1809 Louis Braille is born in Coupvray, near Paris France on January 4th
1812 Louis becomes blind, the result of an accident while playing in his fathers shop.
1819 Louis sent to Paris to live and study at the National Institute for Blind Children.
1824 Louis developed a system, employing a 6-dot cell and based upon normal spelling
1827 Louis published the first book printed using braille to describe and teach his system
1828 Louis becomes a full time teacher at the school where he was once a student
1840 Louis and his friend Pierre Foucault developed a machine to speed up the printing process
1852 When Louis died at age 43, not one newspaper in all of Paris wrote of his death.
1868 Braille, his 6-dot method is accepted as a world wide standard
1952 On the 100th anniversary of his death, the French government honors Braille's accomplishment
CAPS: Braille, Louis Braille, Valentin Hauy, Charles Barbier, Night Writing, William Bell Wait, Simon-René Braille, Pierre Foucault, Dr. Thomas Armitage, Royal Institute for Blind Youth,  ARYs: braille, writing, communications, SIPS, history, biography, inventor, inventor of, history of, who invented, invention of, fascinating facts.
STORY:
Less than 200 years ago, it was said that the blind would never be able to read. People thought that it was only eyesight that could help humans see and read words. A young French boy Louis Braille, who was blind, was determined to find the key to access new methods for himself and all other blind persons of the world.

Louis Braille was born on 4th January, 1809, at Coupvray, near Paris, France..His father, Simon-René Braille, was a harness and saddle maker. At the age of three, Braille injured his left eye with a stitching awl from his father's workshop. This destroyed his left eye, and sympathetic ophthalmia led to loss of vision in his right eye. Braille was completely blind by the age of four. Despite his disability, Braille continued to attend school, with the support of his parents, until he was required to read and write.

Louis Braille was unhappy in school, because his blindness prevented him from reading books. At age 10, he was sent to Paris to live and study at the Royal Institute for Blind Youth, the world's first of its kind. At the school, the children were taught basic craftsman's skills and simple trades. They were also taught how to read by feeling raised letters (a system devised by the school's founder, Valentin Haüy). He thought there had to be a better, easier, and faster way for the blind to read. He was determined to invent it.

From age 12 to 15, he experimented with codes, using a knitting needle to punch holes in paper to represent letters. He shared his progress with officials at the institute but wasn't taken seriously. Braille, a bright and creative student, became a talented cellist and organist in his time at the school, playing the organ for churches all over France.

When Louis was fifteen, he developed an ingenious system of reading and writing by means of raised dots. Two years later he adapted his method to musical notation. He used a pattern of 6 raised dots to represent letters, numbers, punctuation marks, and mathematical symbols. Louis showed his Braille method to his classmates who liked it and began using it, in spite of the fact that it was banned from the institute. At age 17, Louis graduated, became assistant teacher at the institute, and secretly taught his method. Mr. Braille accepted a full-time teaching position at the Institute when he was nineteen.

Braille later extended his system to include notation for mathematics and music. The first book in Braille was published in 1827 under the title Method of Writing Words, Music, and Plain Songs by Means of Dots, for Use by the Blind and Arranged for Them. .After some slight modification it reached its present form in 1834, and is the system which has since borne his name.

In 1839 Braille published details of a method he had developed for communication with sighted people, using patterns of dots to approximate the shape of printed symbols. Braille and his friend Pierre Foucault went on to develop a machine to speed up the somewhat cumbersome system.

He had always been plagued by ill health, and he died in Paris of tuberculosis in 1852 at the age of 43;  Not one newspaper in all of Paris wrote of his death. Although he was admired and respected by his pupils, his Braille system was never taught at the Institute during his lifetime.

Six months later, the institute officially adopted his 6-dot method. By 1868,his raised 6-dot system became a world wide standard, helping the blind read books, clocks, wristwatches, thermometers, sheet music and even elevator buttons.

In 1952, on the 100th anniversary of his death, newspapers everywhere printed his story. His portrait appeared on postage stamps, and his home is now a museum. In his honor, the French government moved his remains to the Pantheon in Paris. There Louis Braille was laid to rest with other great French heroes.


He was a kind, compassionate teacher and an accomplished musician. He gave his life in selfless service to his pupils, to his friends, and to the perfection of his raised dot method. Today, Braille has been adapted to almost every major national language and is the primary system of written communication for visually impaired persons around the world. The name of Braille will always remain associated with one of the greatest and most beneficent devices ever invented.

TO LEARN MORE

RELATED INFORMATION:
Invention of Braille   from The Great Idea Finder
Communication History   from The Great Idea Finder

ON THE BOOKSHELF:
Braille for the Sighted
by S. Harold Collins, Jane Schneider,  Kathy Kifer / Paperback: 32 pages / Garlic Press (1998)
An introduction to braille for those who are sighted. Learn the alphabet and numbers to complete a variety of games and activities
Louis Braille, The Boy Who Invented Books For The Blind
by Margaret Davidson, Janet Compere / Paperback: 80 pages / Scholastic Paper, Reissue (1991)
The poignant story of the man who developed the Braille system of printing for the blind.
Out of Darkness : The Story of Louis Braille
by Russell Freedman / Paperback: 96 pages / Clarion Books (September 20, 1999)
A biography of the 19th century Frenchman who developed Braille. The book spans Braille's life from childhood through his days at the Royal Institute for Blind Youth and into his final years, when the alphabet he invented was finally gaining acceptance.
Louis Braille: A Touch of Genius
by C. Michael Mellor, Michael C. Mellor / Hardcover: 144 pages / National Braille Press (2006)
Born sighted, Louis Braille accidentally blinded himself at the age of 3. He was lucky enough to be sent to a school for blind children in Paris, one of the first in the world. There, at the age of sixteen, he worked tirelessly on a revolutionary system of finger reading that became braille. He was a talented musician, astute businessman, and genius inventor — collaborating with another Frenchman to invent the first dot-matrix printer around 1840.

ON THE WEB:
The Braille System
Alphabet and number charts provide the basics of the Braille code.
(URL:www.louisbrailleschool.org/)
The Blind Lead the Blind
From age 12 to 15, he experimented with codes, using a knitting needle to punch holes in paper to represent letters. He shared his progress with officials at the institute but wasn't taken seriously. How could a blind boy invent a better reading method.
(URL: www.thekidshalloffame.com/CustomPage8.html)
The Story of Louis Braille
There was a time, not long ago, when most people thought that blind people could never learn to read. People thought that the only way to read was to look at words with your eyes.
(URL: www.his.com/~pshapiro/braille.htm)
Braille On the Internet
The New York Institute for Special Education. Serving students with special needs since 1831
(URL: www.nyise.org/index.html)
Louis Braiile Biography
A New Method: The Story of Louis Braille by Carolyn Meyer
(URL: www.louisbrailleschool.org/text/new.htm)
The Life of Louis Braille
Dr Thomas Armitage led a group of four blind men to found the British and Foreign Society for Improving the Embossed Literature of the Blind. This small band of friends grew and grew to become Royal National Institute of the Blind (RNIB). They are now the largest publisher of braille in Europe.
(URL: www.rnib.org.uk/xpedio/groups/public/documents/publicwebsite/public_braille.hcsp)
The National Library for the Blind
This organization is a registered charity. We believe that visually impaired people should have the same access to books and information as sighted people. Our website provides a range of exciting, innovative services to meet this need.
(URL: www.nlb-online.org/)
The Braille Alphabet
Braille is a tactile writing system used by blind people. Braille generally consists of cells of 6 raised dots conventionally numbered and the presence or absence of dots gives the coding for the symbol.
(URL: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Braille)
Louis Braille
When Louis Braille grew up he became a teacher at the school in which he was a student. It was not until after his death, however, that his system was widely adopted. Today, Braille is used in almost every country in the world.
(URL: www.firstschoolyears.com/history/people/Braille/braille.htm)

WHERE TO FIND:
Louis Database
The American Printing House for the Blind (APH) currently houses a database called the Louis Database of Accessible Materials for People who are Blind or Visually Impaired. Louis contains information about tens of thousands of titles of accessible materials, including braille, large print, sound recordings, and computer files from over 170 agencies throughout the United States.
Store for People With Vision Loss
The Ann Morris Enterprises businesse is dedicated to people with vision loss. For your convenience they have developed the site in full compliance with accessibility standards. Visitors using screen-reader software should find the site friendly and easy to use. Low vision visitors should find it comfortable as well.


WORDS OF WISDOM:

"Access to communication in the widest sense is access to knowledge, and that is vitally important for us … We do not need pity, nor do we need to be reminded that we are vulnerable. We must be treated as equals, and communication is the way we can bring this about."  - Louis Braille, 1841

"We the blind are as indebted to Louis Braille as mankind is to Gutenberg." - Helen Keller


HOW IT WORKS:
Process for Converting Information to Braille
The sections are designed to provide the reader an overview of the process of converting text to alternative print. This article is based on procedures and techniques developed by Disability Resources for Students at Arizona State University for the production of mandated alternative print accommodations. Specific software and hardware brands are listed in the article

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Braille is also notable for being a binary code that predated the invention of the computer.
Designated trademarks and brands are the property of their respective owners.
Reference Sources in BOLD Type. This page revised May 16, 2006.
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