Here are some facts about Louis Braille.
- Louis Braille was a French teacher and inventor. He is best known for his system of reading for the blind or visually impaired, which is still used today.
- Braille was born near Paris, France in 1809.
- At three years old, he accidentally stuck a sharp tool in his eye, developed an infection and was completely blind by five.
- Louis Braille attended one of the world’s first schools for blind children. He was taught to read using a system of raised letters but realized the system could be improved.
- He learned of a system of dots and dashes used by the French army. Braille made changes to it, and published his reading system for the blind in 1829 at the age of 20. It replaced letter symbols with raised dots and dashes.
- A few years later, Braille became a teacher and also wrote several works that helped to explain his reading system. He died from tuberculosis in 1852, aged 43.
- By the late 19th century, the Braille system was being used all over France, and in 1916 it was officially used in the US. More recent developments include braille for email and computer terminals.
- There are statues and memorials to Louis Braille all over the world, and he has been described as one of the 100 most influential inventors. His childhood home is a museum devoted to his work.
- Braille was the world’s first binary system of writing. The 64 combinations of dots can represent letters, numbers, punctuation marks and complete words and can be in languages other than English.
- Despite the introduction of electronic reading devices, braille is still important. In the US, an estimated 50,000 blind people rely on it; in the UK about 5,000 people use it regularly.
- World Braille Day is celebrated every January 4th, Louis Braille’s birth date. In 2009, several countries introduced special coins to celebrate the 200th anniversary of his birth.
What next? Learn about some other famous inventors.