Louis Braille is Born
Louis Braille was born on January 4, 1809, in a small town
called Coupvray, France. Louis and his family lived in a small
house. His father worked as a master harness maker. He made
saddles for horses.
When Louis was three years old, he
blinded one eye in an accident in his father's tool shop. In a
short time, he became blind in the other eye as well. He then
“saw” the world through his fingers and ears.
children at that time had few opportunities to learn, but the
local priest became Louis's teacher. Louis did so well in school
that at age ten he traveled to Paris to study at the Royal
Institute for Blind Youth. He liked his classes, especially
music lessons, but there were no ways to take notes, write, or
even read music. While there, Louis became interested in making
a written alphabet that would help the blind to read. At
fifteen, he completed a variation of the alphabet that uses
raised dots to make letters.
The braille alphabet uses a
system based on dots in cells. A basic cell is a group of six
dots, arranged three down and two across. A cell represents
different letters and numbers depending on how the dots are
organized. It is easy to feel under one fingertip. Louis spent
the rest of his life teaching and promoting his systems to help
the blind communicate.
During his lifetime, only a small
group of people knew braille. After Louis died in 1852, the
popularity of the braille alphabet spread to other countries.
Helen Keller, the great American writer and activist, was blind
and deaf. She read braille. She compared Louis Braille’s work to
the invention of modern printing.