October 12, 2004

Braille Writing

Everybody knows some guy named Braille invented writing that could be read by the fingertips, right?

Well, kinda. Louis Braille actually improved upon the idea developed by Charles Barbier.

In the early 1800s, the French military captain wanted a way for the front line soldiers to read messages from the back when it was dark out. Normally, they'd have to get a light to read a message--exposing their position to the enemy. So Barbier came up with raising dots onto the surface of paper. He had twelve dots standing for various sounds.

Barbier decided to pass his new "night writing" onto the blind. One of the first to learn this new system was thirteen-year-old Louis Braille. Braille offered Barbier some ideas for making the system easier, but Barbier refused to make any changes based on the recommendations of a boy.

Braille, undeterred, contrived of a new system on his own. After two years, he had made this "night writing" into a simpler series of six dots standing for different letters of the alphabet. Today blind people read by using Braille rather than Barbier...but Louis Braille was always grateful to Barbier for the initial idea, and credited him for it.

Posted by Jennifer at October 12, 2004 03:30 PM


Now there's something you just don't learn on the nightly news. :)

Posted by: Tuning Spork at October 14, 2004 09:48 PM