On This Day in History: Louis Braille was Born

blind sign

Allow us to share some fascinating facts about this esteemed educator in honor of his birthday.

On this day in 1809, Louis Braille was born in Coupvray, France.  At age three, Louis was injured in an accident that led him to lose his sight by age five.  At that time, there were limited options for blind people, but his parents wanted him to be educated.  So, despite his disability, he went to the local village school and learned his lessons by listening.  His attentiveness eventually paid off, and at age 10, he received a scholarship to attend the National Institute for Blind Youth in Paris.

While at the National Institute, Louis met Charles Barbier, who had invented a code that used combinations of raised dots to represent different sounds.  Charles called his code sonography and hoped that soldiers would be able to decode the messages by feeling the dots.  This would allow them to communicate silently and in the dark.

Ultimately, sonography did not succeed as a military tool due to its complex nature and the fact that it was based on sounds.  However, Louis saw promise in the system and spent three years (from ages 12-15) developing a simpler system.  His efforts resulted in creating a system of six dots that could be arranged in different combinations to represent different letters and punctuation marks.

In 1829, Louis introduced his new system, aptly named “braille,” when he published Method of Writing Words, Music, and Plain Songs by Means of Dots for Use by the Blind and Arranged for Them.  At age 19, he became an apprentice teacher at the National Institute and a completed educator by the age of24.

In 1837, the school published its first book in braille.  Initially, this system was met with mixed opinions and was not immediately adopted.  However, by 1850, when Louis was forced to retire from teaching as he battled tuberculosis, braille was becoming more accepted in the blind community.  Sadly, Louis died from his illness at age 43 on January 6, 1852.

Today, braille is still widely used around the world and has empowered blind and low-vision individuals to become literate and compete in the modern education system.

We at The Maria Sanchez Show hope you will join us as we celebrate the life and legacy of Louis Braille in honor of his birthday.  Don’t forget to check out our latest program, Shadow Politics with Senator Michael D. Brown.   Tune in on Sundays at 4:00 p.m. PST/7:00 p.m. EST.

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