Extra Info: Louis Braille

In 1812 at the age of 3 Louis Braille had an accident which left him completely blind in both eyes.

A very intelligent child, he would do well in his school studies and was eventually rewarded with a place at one of the first schools for children with visual impairments in the world.

During his studies Braille and the other students would learn from books which used either ordinary letters embossed onto thick paper to be read with the fingers or a system called ‘Night Writing’

Using ordinary letters embossed onto paper was very inefficient as only a limited number of words could be used per page due to letters having to be large enough for the reader to be able to feel the shape of them.

Night Writing was made up of 12 dots arranged in rows then embossed onto heavy paper and read with the fingers.

Night Writing had originally been invented by Charles Barbier, an officer in Napoleons army, as a way of communicating messages on a battlefield in complete darkness without using speech or light

Unfortunately both Napoleons army and the young Louis Braille found night writing too complex to read and Braille also found it too limited in its scope as it could not represent punctuation, mathematical symbols or musical notation.

Braille would spend the next few years trying to develop an easier to use but more powerful language based on night writing before coming up with the much simpler dotted symbols which would bare his name, describe all letters, punctuation, maths and music and revolutionise reading for people with visual impairments