The Code That Changed the Course of History. Happy Birthday, Louis Braille.

miniature portrait of Louis Braille

The year was 1821. On a day like any other, 12-year-old Louis Braille, blinded from an eye injury in his father’s leather shop and subsequent double-eye infection, attended school outside of Paris. This day, however, he met Captain Charles Barbier. Barbier, a retired artillery officer, showcased his invention to Louis’ class. The invention was called “sonography”; a system of writing and reading in the dark via 12-dot cells produced by methodically piercing paper with a slim knife. The system was bulky and unrefined, but Barbier presented it to the school for the blind as a concept for literacy.

Louis, clearly an intelligent visionary, recognized the enormous potential of this code designed for wartime. He worked for three years to modify the code into a simpler system of 6-dot cells. That’s right—he was 15 years old when he finished drastically improving the code rightfully then termed “braille”.

And for all who are blind or visually impaired seeking independent studying, reading, and writing, the course of history was indeed changed.

Now your child can pick up a braille book or magazine and get lost in the story without the help of technology or a reader.

Now your child can braille a quick note, read a menu, use a simple map, keep a hard-copy calendar, organize print material, and so much more.

Now your child can read. Now your child can write. Now your child who is blind or visually impaired is offered literacy.

Understanding the gravity of literacy and the importance of Louis Braille’s gift of independence, the blindness community celebrates Louis Braille’s January 4th birthday and coins January as the National Braille Literacy month.

In honor of both, I present you with AFB FamilyConnect’s literacy resource: Teaching Children Who Are Blind or Have Low Vision to Read and Write. There you’ll find expert advice on promoting literacy from an early age; ideas for fun literacy- building activities; and information on braille.

Furthermore, you can learn more about Louis Braille’s life by browsing AFB’s Louis Braille Museum and learn more about his famous code through accessible games and activities on the Braille Bug® site. Finally, we have an AFB Blog 16 Braille Resources in Honor of World Braille Day 2016 .

Happy birthday and thank you, Mr. Braille.