History of Braille
The Braille Alphabet at a Glance
History of Braille
This system of writing and reading used by many blind people was invented almost 200 years ago. While several types of written communication systems were tried during a ten-year period beginning in 1825, the one invented by a blind teenager was adopted. Some modifications have been made to it over the years but the Braille code in use today is virtually the same as it was in 1834.
Louis Braille was born January 4, 1809, in a small village near Paris. His father, a leather worker, often used sharp tools in his work. While playing in his father's shop when he was three, Louis injured his eye on an awl. In spite of good care, infection set in and soon left him completely blind.
When Louis grew to school age, he was allowed to sit in the classroom to learn by listening. Louis was very bright and creative, and when he was ten, he was sent to the Royal Institution for Blind Youth in Paris. There too, most instruction was oral, but there were a few books in a kind of raised print developed by the school's founder. Although frustrated by the large, bulky books and slow reading of the tactile characters, he did well at his studies and dreamed of a better way. At that time, the raised letters were made by pressing shaped copper wire onto paper but there was no way for blind people to write for themselves.
While a student, he began to use his creativity to invent an easy and quick way for blind people to read and write. Louis heard of a system of raised dots developed by a French army captain, Charles Barbier. Barbier originally created a code of raised dots and dashes as a way to allow soldiers to write and read messages at night without using a light that might give away their positions. He later adapted the system and presented it to the Institution for Blind Youth, hoping that it would be officially adopted there. It was based on phonetics and consisted of groups of twelve dots arranged in two columns of six dots each.
Louis worked with Barbier's basic ideas to develop his own simplified system that we know today as braille. He based the code on the normal alphabet and reduced the number of dots by half.
Louis Braille published the first Braille book in 1829. In 1837, he added symbols for math and music. Although Louis Braille went on to become a beloved and respected teacher, was encouraged in his research, and continued to believe in the value of his work, his system of reading and writing with raised dots was nevertheless not very widely accepted in his own time. Louis Braille died of tuberculosis on January 6, 1852.
Today, in virtually every language around the world, the code named after Louis Braille is the standard form of writing and reading used by blind people.
Braille as we know it was developed by Louis Braille. Louis Braille, who lost his sight due to a severe accident while playing in his father's workshop, discovered that raised dots were much easier to read than raised print letters. Louis Braille's invention was based on 'Night Writing', a system of communication used on board ship and in the trenches by the military. The system enabled the soldiers to transmit messages silently to one another without fear of being heard. It was usually carried out in the hart of darkness - hence Night Writing.
Although Braille took almost a century to become accepted as the standard means of communication by the Blind, there are those today who feel that it is too cumbersome and hard to learn, especially for very young children and the elderly. However, accomplished Braille readers would strongly disagree and say that it has granted them a gateway into education and serves as a very important platform at their place of employment.
Without Braille, those with little or no vision would be cut off from a world of information, which, is not only paramount to a person's educational and occupational advancements, but in matters of safety: For example, taking the right dosage of medication; being able to distinguish between lethal and non-toxic detergents in and around the home; reading and digesting important safety instructions for a given household appliance, and keeping up-to-date with their utility bills and bank statements, etc...
Braille is a system of six dots read by touch. These six dots when embossed altogether is called 'the Braille cell', from which can be formed letters of the alphabet, numbers and punctuation marks.
We here at Accessible Printing are always striving to encourage more and more companies, public service providers and manufacturers, to make their communications available to all Canadians in Braille, large print and the spoken word. It is not enough for them to say: 'we've never been asked for Braille, so we've not had the need to offer it. Companies and public service providers have an obligation by law to make reasonable adjustment to their services in order to accommodate the needs of the disabled, which includes the blind and visually impaired. In addition, the impact factor that your organization is proactive in meeting the needs of all Canadians can be a significant benefit to your bottom line. In view of this, we strongly recommend to set the wheels in motion now so as to be ready when the legislation comes into force.
The Braille Alphabet at a Glance
Braille is a method of reading by touch. Braille letters are made of raised dots, like the six dots on a domino. All Braille Cards products are embossed using English Standard Type 1 or 2 Braille (Type 1 is more simplified).
The six dots of each Braille cell are arranged like the example below to form a letter. The dots are numbered 1 through 6, starting in the upper left corner, going down.
We are always striving to encourage more and more companies, public service providers and manufacturers, to make their communications available to all Canadians in Braille, large print and the spoken word. It is not enough for them to say: we've never been asked for Braille, so we've not had the need to offer it. Companies and public service providers have an obligation by law to make reasonable adjustment to their services in order to accommodate the needs of the disabled, which includes the blind and visually impaired. In addition, the impact factor that your organization is proactive in meeting the needs of all Canadians can be a significant benefit to your bottom line. In view of this, we strongly recommend to set the wheels in motion now.