The Beginning of Braille

Essay by saxmanJunior High, 9th gradeA+, May 2004

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Braille is a system of writing and printing for blind or visually impaired people, in which varied arrangements of glyphs, or raised dots representing letters and numerals, are identified by touch. It was created in the early 1820's and is one of the most important developments in the education of people who are blind. Today, Braille is the standard reading and writing system for the blind.

Louis Braille, a young Frenchman, was born in a town called Coupvray, near Paris, on January 4, 1809. Simon René Braille, a local harness maker, and his wife Monique were the parents of Louis. Along with his three other siblings, Louis was a bright, but curious child. His curiosity took from him his most prized possession, but also provided him with a great gift that changed the lives of many people.

At the age of three, while playing in his father's shop, Louis injured his eye on a sharp tool.

Regardless of the best care available at the time, infection set in and soon spread to the other eye as well, leaving him completely blind.

Louis soon began attending school and by the age of 10, he was sent on a scholarship to the Royal Institution for Blind Youth in Paris. There, Louis did well at his studies as he did before. He soon developed a talent for music. He played the piano, but then, switched to the organ. He tried to learn a system that involved many raised dots, but found it too difficult to learn.

Charles Barbier de la Serre, a French army captain, was the one who actually developed the system of raised dots used for tactile writing and reading. He called this system Sonography, because it stood for words according to sound rather than spelling. He originally developed it...