Braille, the transformative tactile writing system for individuals with visual impairments, traces its origins to the ingenuity of Louis Braille in the early 19th century. Born in France in 1809 and blinded at a young age, Braille sought to overcome the limitations faced by the visually impaired in reading and writing.
In 1824, at the age of 15, he introduced the initial version of the Braille system, utilizing a grid of six dots arranged in two columns of three. This innovative method allowed blind individuals to read and write by discerning the raised dots through touch. Louis Braille continued to refine his system, culminating in the widely adopted six-dot code by 1837. Despite initial resistance, Braille’s invention gained recognition as a pivotal tool for empowering the visually impaired.
[Watch the video at the bottom of this article to learn the braille alphabet]
The impact of Braille extended globally, reaching various parts of Europe and eventually the United States. In 1932, the American Foundation for the Blind officially embraced the Braille system as the standard for English-speaking blind individuals.
Concurrently, organizations like the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) played a crucial role in promoting and disseminating Braille knowledge. As a universal method for reading and writing among the blind and visually impaired community, Braille, endorsed by institutions such as the RNIB, ensures access to education, literature, and information. Technological advancements have further integrated Braille into electronic devices, underscoring its relevance in enabling participation for visually impaired individuals in our interconnected world. The enduring legacy of Louis Braille persists through the continued enhancement of millions of lives, with organizations like the RNIB actively contributing to the promotion and accessibility of Braille.
If you want to know more about Braille, you can visit the RNIB website to learn about how it has developed over the years (and how it may in the future).
If you’ve watched the above video and learned the braille alphabet, perhaps you could try to decipher a little braille the next time you spot some – perhaps even for World Braille Day on 5 Jan.