Braille was created by French born Louis Braille, the first Braille book was published in 1829. Louis himself was blind, he lost his sight during an accident when he was aged just 3 years old. Whilst playing in his father’s harness workshop Louis grabbed an awl, a sharp tool for making holes, and the tool slid and hurt his eye. The wound got infected, and the infection spread, and soon, Louis was blind in both eyes.
Louis who was a bright child all of a sudden had to discover new ways to learn! He tried with him mainstream school for a further two years but it soon became apparent that he was struggling to learn at the same pace as the other students just by listening. At age 10 Louis secured himself a scholarship at Paris based school, Royal Institution for Blind Youths. Even after moving to a specialist visual impairment school Louis was frustrated to find that much of the education still involved learning via audio. The library did however contain some accessible books, they had been adapted using raised words and were painfully slow to read.
Then in 1821, a former soldier named Charles Barbier visited the school. Barbier shared his invention called “night writing,” a code of 12 raised dots that let soldiers share top-secret information on the battlefield without even having to speak. Unfortunately, the code was too hard for the soldiers, but not for 12-year-old Louis! Louis worked with the code over the next few years, he streamlined it to make it easier to use and that is when his first book was published.
Despite this creation Braille is was not taught in schools until well after his death, even at the Royal Institution for the Blind where Louis worked as an educator. Braille only began to spread worldwide when it was adopted by a group of English men known as the Royal National Institute for the Blind, in 1868.
Braille has adapted and changed considerably over the years but is used by many countries as a method of reading for blind and partially sighted people.
To read more about Louis Braille click here!
To read more about Charles Barbier click here!
There is a great extensive resource page of The Paths to Literacy page telling the story of Louis Braille- click here!
Here is a link to a great powerpoint created by the Royal National Institue for the Blind, this powerpoint would be good to use with sighted siblings or for in schools to tell the story of Louis Braille.