Throughout the world, there are many interesting stories of humankind’s reach into the unknown. One of these stories is the invention of Braille, the reading system meant to help people with vision impairment read their books.
Braille is one of the countless stories of humankind’s desire to reach outwards and create an accessible form of communication that builds bridges between the privileged and the underprivileged.
But the story of Braille is not just about how it was invented. It was also about others who contributed to the development of this reading system or who pioneered it initially.
Who was Braille
Louis Braille was born in a small town called Coupvray, in France. Because he was blinded at the age of 3 by an accident with a tool in his father’s harness-making workshop, he received very little schooling.
He did learn how to read letters on his own using large books with raised letters, but this method was not practical for most reading.
At the age of 15, he went to Paris to study using raised letters with Charles Barbier de la Serre, who had developed a system which was known as “night writing.”
Braille realized that it would be useful if the code were built into something like dice so that people could more easily use it.
After braille became a popular primary method of reading and writing, the first braille “dice” was developed by embossing the dots on thick cardboard and using loose-leaf dividers with small rectangular holes which could be turned up to make patterns for each letter of the alphabet.
How was Braille invented?
In 1824, at age 16 Braille developed a code for representing music and math which used an arrangement of raised dots. This system was further developed as Braille learned more about the needs of the blind community.
He was encouraged to publish his ideas and the embossed paper method of reading and writing was finally published in 1829.
In 1837, Louis Braille published a book called “Method of Writing Words, Music, and Plain Songs by Means of Dots, for Use by the Blind and Arranged for Them.”
It included both his system of reading and writing, which was known as Braille’s Code and a system of arithmetical notation. In this book, he showed how his code could be used to write music and do arithmetic without the need for a sighted helper or teacher.
What was Braille first used for?
As far as we know, Louis Braille’s first use of his writing system was to write a letter. But it must have been so long ago that no one can be very sure…
What is important is that since then, braille has continued to help thousands of blind and sight-impaired individuals access literature and knowledge.
It gives them the opportunity to see and feel what is on their own bookshelf, and not just hear about it from a sighted person.
How was braille developed?
The development of braille continued over many years as it had to be adapted for various languages and cultures. Fifty years after Braille’s death, at least 50 different braille codes were being used throughout the world.
By 1961, a single international braille code was created which could be used in every language and every country.
Today, about 80% of blind children learn to read through braille. Countries such as China, Egypt, Nigeria and Thailand have braille code that is very different from most other countries.
When you learn to read braille in your own country and then move to a new one it can be frustrating because you can’t read the books unless you learn that new code!
When did braille become popular?
Louis Braille died in 1852, but his code became widely used around the world. Braille did not become popular until many years after it was invented.
Today, the World Blind Union estimates that there are over 40 million blind and visually impaired people who can read braille. When Louis Braille invented his writing system for reading and writing, there were at least 1 million blind people in the world.
Today, there are at least 12 million blind people in the world and about 90% of them use braille.
What braille did for the blind
By allowing blind people to learn to read and write, braille has had an enormous impact on their lives. It gives them independence and enables them to teach themselves anything they want.
Many famous people who are sight-impaired use braille today. For example, it is reported that Stephen Hawking used braille to write his book “A Brief History of Time.”
He also used a synthesizer to speak the words of his book which has been translated into 35 languages.
How many people use braille today?
Louis Braille’s code is still widely used today. The World Blind Union estimates that there are over 40 million blind and visually impaired people who can read braille.
In fact, all countries of the world have some form of braille code. It is estimated that about 80% of all blind children will learn braille when they go to school.
In Zambia, about 70,000 people read and write in braille. In the United States, there are over 1 million blind and visually impaired people who can read by touch thanks to braille.
Each year in America, thousands of young children learn to read with the help of braille. The braille code used in America is called Uncontracted Braille. In this type of braille, each letter has only one meaning and you do not need to know how it is written in order to read or write using braille.
Braille is also used in many other countries. Countries such as China, Egypt, Nigeria and Thailand have braille code that is very different from most other countries.
However, people who are blind or visually impaired can read any type of braille if they practice it enough.
Braille is a writing system for blind and sight-impaired people. It is a set of raised dots that form words.
Braille was invented by Louis Braille when he was only 15 years old. At first, it took many years to become popular around the world.
Today, over 40 million people read braille worldwide. Most people who are blind and visually impaired learn braille when they go to school, and it gives them independence and enables them to teach themselves anything they want.