Louis Braille, Inventor of Braille

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Louis Braille, a blind student in Paris who was propelled by his own thirst to read and learn, invented a revolutionary reading and writing system of raised dots that allowed the blind read with their fingers. The system, which bears his name, has been adopted across the globe and has profoundly changed millions of lives.

Louis Braille was born on 4th January, 1809, at Coupvray, near Paris. At three years of age, the young Braille was accidentally struck in the eye while playing in his father's workshop; the subsequent eye infection spread to his other eye, depriving him of his sight.

In 1819 Braille was sent to Paris to attend France's Royal Institute for Blind Youth. Young Louis Braille desperately wanted to read. He realized the vast world of thought and ideas that was locked out to him because of his disability. And he was determined to find the key to this door for himself, and for all other blind persons.

At the time, his school had a number of books with raised text, so that students could trace the letters with their fingers. But this method proved cumbersome and ineffective. Luckily, Braille attended a demonstration by Charles Barbier, a retired military man who had devised a system of 12 embossed dots that would allow soldiers to pass notes without striking a light. In Barbier’s system, the dot formations represented specific sounds. 

It was a eureka moment for Braille. The embossed dots were far more identifiable than raised letters. Inspired, Braille spent a few years honing Barbier’s invention, and assigning each letter in the written alphabet a corresponding configuration utilizing a maximum of six dots.

In 1824, at the age of 21, Braille had his system in place. It caught on instantly. 

Rather than sit on his laurels, Braille continued to find ways to allow the blind to read, creating notation systems for mathematics and music. 

The inventor and advocate for the blind died in 1852. His reading and writing system has been adopted in almost every known language, and increased educational and job opportunities for the blind.