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louis-braille

‘Braille is knowledge , and knowledge is power’ – Louis Braille

For many years, visually disabled and blind had to depend on Braille script as the main form of communication. Even now, when modern tools like cassette recordings, voice synthesizers, computer compatible speech softwares are available, braille continues to be a major form of reading and writing source for the blind.

His life

Louis Braille ( 4January 1809 – 6 January 1852) was born in Coupvray, France. Blinded in both eyes as a result of accident in his childhood, he tried to overcome his disability. He received scholarship for education in Royal institution for Blind Youth ( wikipedia). While he was studying, he developed tactile system of learning inspired by the military cryptography of Charles Barbier. He visited the school where Braille was studying and shared his invention called ‘ night writing’ used by soldiers which consisted of 12 raised dots.(braillebug.afb.org). The soldiers could not easily follow the system. But Braille quickly learned it. He shortened it to 6 dots and published first ever Braille book in 1829. In 1837 , he added symbols for math and music.

He worked as an educator at the institute he studied. But braille was not recognised and taught to blind. They had to learn on their own. Some British people took up the matter in 1868 and made the script famou. They were from Royal National Institute for the Blind.

Braille had published many books in braille script. But he suffered from respiratory illness and could not live long. He died at an early age.

Script

Braille consists of ‘cell’ with six raised dots. Thick paper material is generally used so that the embossed dots can be read comfortably with index finger. Each letter has a different dot or dots to recognise. To conserve space and read quickly, braille uses the ‘ contraction ‘ method which involves assigning different combinations of raised dots to denote words/ phrases. Elaborate discussion can be found in Duxbury systems – Louis Braille and braille system ( duxburysystem.com). Braille system has undergone several modifications.

Importance

At present, many languages have Braille script for the blind. New tools of writing have been invented. Braille slates and stylus have been replaced by Braille writers. Some computer systems read and write braille. A system of highly contracted braille is used to make notes in schools and colleges.

Many rural blind persons who do not have accessibility to modern computer system use braille to write. Though many braille books are being published, there is a need to see that they are available to poor. Moreover, the literature is vast but braille literature is very less compared to the growth of knowledge and literature.
Other tools like tape recorders, cassettes and audio material should be made available to the blind and visually impaired. Latest math and scientific books or articles must be translated into braille script and audio tapes so that blind can learn modern science.

Blind schools and colleges mostly distribute braille scriptures. In addition, they should spread rationalism and scientific temper and instill confidence among visually disabled persons.
Sheshu Babu is a writer from anywhere and everywhere

One Comment

  1. Sally Dugman says:

    As I have shared previously, there are lots of no/charge, free of cost materials available for the blind originating in some developed countries. Many can be sent to India and/or other lands of they are applied for receipt.

    Thank you for a very informative and interesting article, Sheshu. I appreciate it!