Louis Braille. More than 200 years have passed since the birth of (4 January 1809) Louis Braille — the man who has created the alphabet for the blind, which is currently used by people worldwide. Louis Braille was born in a small French town. His father, who worked as a saddler, was making a living manufacturing harness.
But in Louis’s childhood there was an accident that affected the fate of the boy. One day at the age of three Louis was playing in his father’s workshop and hurt his eye. As a result, some infection hit the eye and the boy became blind.
At that time, people who were blind could not expect to have happy future life. They often suffered from starvation or just were doomed to a miserable existence. Therefore, Louis’s parents worried about their son. His father decided at all costs to develop the boy. Louis learned the alphabet with the help of special plates with slots, and at the age of seven went to school like all children. When Louis was 10 years, he began to study at the Royal Institute for Blind Children, after which he got a job as an organist in one of the churches.
During his studies in the Paris Institute Braille studied the method of night writing, developed by Charles Barbier . This method was originally used by the military for sending data at night. The letters in this case were just holes in a cardboard. Therefore, the message could be read while touching, which actually allowed the blind use this method for transferring information. But this method was not very convenient to use because the letters were big for children’s fingers. However, all these shortcomings inspired Braille to create graphically-point writing, which would be easy to use and which could reflect the features of different languages, including numbers, chemical symbols, music notes, etc.
The first version of Braille was used in 1829. Using it «A Brief History of France» was published. Over the time, Louis Braille invented a special needle, using which you could portray ordinary letters in relief. But the way of “printing” with a needle took a lot of time. Pierre Foucault helped Braille to cope with this problem (Foucault became blind at age of 6, but was talented in mechanics).
It was decided to use a special machine invented by Foucault. When you click the machine, an ink stamp of a letter appears. And this letter is relief. Consequently, the text made this way could be read by all people.
In December 1851, Louis Braille’s health deteriorated. On 6 January 1852, he died because of tuberculosis.
As it happens with many inventions, the method of Braille was not immediately adopted and approved. However, in 1852 Braille was officially recognized in France. And in 1878 at the World Congress in Rome, this method was officially named as the most suitable for use by blind people.
In Russia, the first book printed in Braille was a «Collection of articles for children’s reading, published and dedicated to blind children by Anna Adler» (1885).