19. Braille


Louis Braille (1809-1852) was a blind Frenchman who devised The Braille System, used by the blind people to read and write! Each Braille character consists of six dot positions in two columns of three dots in each.

Braille system was based on the silent mode of communication in the dark, called the Night Writing. It was developed by Charles Barbier to meet Napoleon’s demand for military use.

Barbier’s system had 12 raised dots and a number of dashes in addition. The soldiers found it so complicated to learn that it was eventually rejected by the military.

Braille could identify the defects in Barbier’s system and set them right. Braille reduced the number of dots from 12 to 6.

This made the system easier and faster to read. An alphabet can be read by the touch of a finger tip, without having to move it along.

This revolutionized the written communication for all the blind! Braille system has been adapted for every known language.

Braille became blind at the age of three when he accidentally poked his eye with a stitching awl, one of tools used by his father-who was a saddle maker. The injury got infected and went blind. The other eye also went blind because of sympathetic ophthalmia.

At the age 10, Braille earned a scholarship to the National Institute for the Blind in Paris. He was a bright and creative student and became a talented Cellist and an Organist, while at school.

Braille was well respected by his pupils. However his writing system was not taught in his own Institute during his life time. He died of tuberculosis at the age of 43.

Braille’s system of writing was officially recognized only in 1854, two years after his death! Sadly very few persons are lucky enough to get recognition in their own life time!

Mastering Braille requires professional training and relentless practice. Designer Hyung Jin Lim has developed the Braille Interpreter. It consists of a single finger glove, a Blue tooth headphone and an interpreting software.

User may wear the finger glove and move his finger over the Braille alphabets.The reading material is transferred to the head phone as voice date through the Blue tooth.

Visalakshi Ramani

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