World Braille Day commemorates the birth of Louis Braille. A brilliant and optimistic man who invented Braille coding .He was born on 4 January 1809 in France, Louis Braille revolutionised the lives of people who are blind, deaf blind and vision impaired, with his invention of a simple system of six raised dots. Back in 1829 he published his method of writing words, music, and song by means of dots, for use by the blind and arranged by them. Braille literacy is a key to social and economic opportunity.
Actually Louis Braille was from a poor family and his father worked as the village saddler.. He was just four years old when he injured his eyes in his father workplace and his future seemed uncertain and dark. However Louis Braille became one of the most famous Frenchmen ever have lived. Despite his difficult start in life, Louis was an intelligent boy and excelled at the local school. Noticing his potential, the local landowner offered to arrange a scholarship for Louis at one of the first schools for the blind. Reluctant to send Louis away from home but worried about his future, his parents agreed. Aged ten, Louis left for Paris to attend the Royal Institution for Blind Youth .Being so far away from his family was difficult for Louis but he always retained his thirst for knowledge. The boys were taught to read using a system called ‘raised type’ where letters were created by pressing shaped copper wire onto a page. Louis learnt quickly but found the system frustrating and slow. It was impossible for people with sight loss to write anything for themselves using raised type and it could take months to read even little stuff. Charles Barbier, a captain in Napoleon’s army, visited the school to demonstrate his ‘night writing’. This was a tactile system designed for soldiers to send and receive messages at night without speaking. It used raised dots and dashes rather than actual letters. Louis quickly realised how useful this system could be, but thought it was too complicated. Over the next few years he worked hard to develop his own version of the code, using just six dots to represent the standard alphabet. By 1824, aged just 15 years old, Louis had found 63 ways to use a six-dot cell in an area no larger than a fingertip.
He spent his life teaching the system to as many people as possible, first as a fellow student at the school and then later when he became a teacher there. He translated many books into Braille and was much liked and respected by his students. Spending so much of his life in such poor and damp conditions probably contributed to Louis Braille contracting tuberculosis in his twenties. He battled with the illness for the rest of this life. Despite encountering much resistance to Braille he never stopped believing in his system. He died on 6 January 1852, just two days after his 43rd birthday, unaware that his invention would one day be used all over the world. In 1952, Louis Braille’s accomplishments were finally recognised by the French government and his body was exhumed and reburied in the Pantheon in Paris, with other French national heroes. Now he is celebrated as a hero for all blind and partially sighted people .Just because of his determination and positive approach now blind people can also get education, can take part in different academic activities as well as latest technological events. Just because of him talented blind people can nullify an uncertain gap of darkness between them and normal people. In short, he gave the gift of independence and the joy of reading to thousands of people around the world.
Though Braille is thought to be the main way blind people read and write. Braille characters are small rectangular blocks called cells that contain tiny palpable bumps called raised dots. The number and arrangement of these dots distinguish one character from another. Since the various Braille alphabets originated as transcription codes of printed writing systems, the mappings vary from language to language. Braille education remains important for developing reading skills among blind and visually impaired children as Braille literacy correlates with higher employment rates.
Individuals who are deaf-blind can achieve goals with support systems, which might include large print, Braille education system, interpreters, adaptive equipment, and orientation and mobility training. Our responsibility is our attitude. NAYS and PSF are trying to take a step to aware normal individuals about Braille and for students who are deaf-blind and cognitively disabled to achieve valued life outcomes.
Article By: Rabia Ahmed
Poster: Muhammad Adeel Ansari