Louis Braille - Triumph over darkness

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Louie Braille

The Braille system is a method that is widely used by blind people to read and write, and was the first digital form of writing.

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Louie Braille
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History of Braille

Louie Braille was born in January 4th 1809 in Coupvray, Seine-et Marne. At age 3, he wounded his eye playing with a tool in his father’s workshop and loses his sight. In 1819, at age 10 he was entered into the Royal Institution for the Young Blind, Paris.

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History of Braille
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Charles Barbier

Charles Barbier was from the Brienne Military School and had graduated as artillery captain. Barbier imagined various ways to communicate fast. One of these methods was “dotted”, that is to say made up of raised dots.

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Charles Barbier
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Barbier's method

Barbier’s method for writing meant a cell, the basic unit from which all characters could be obtained consisting of 2 columns of 6 dots.

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Barbier's method
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Creation of the Braille method

In 1821, Braille then 12 years and his fellow pupils immediately realized the tactile superiority of dots over lines. Under his leadership, the Institution changed into a workshop bubbling with activity. Braille conceived his own process in 1825, which he finalized after many trials and much thought, and which he communicated to his fellow pupils.

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Creation of the Braille method
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Braille's Method

Braille halved the height of the signs. He defined a cell consisting of two columns of three dots. This size is perfectly adapted to the finger tip. Since reading the signs can be global, time is gained.

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Braille's Method
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Teaching the others

At the age of 14 he was first appointed foreman of the workshop making list and braid footwear, since the children were introduced to this craft to make their fingers more nimble. Then, at the age of 19, he was appointed tutor to teach grammar, history, geography, arithmetic, algebra, geometry, the piano and the cello.

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Teaching the others
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Knowledge to the World

At the age of 20 in 1829 he published his book, " Method of Writing Words, Music, and Plain Songs by Means of Dots, for Use by the Blind and Arranged for Them", by L. Braille, Tutor at the Royal Institution for the Young Blind.

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Knowledge to the World
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Raphigraph

In 1841, Pierre François Victor Foucault, a friend of Braille and like him blind from childhood, as well as being an excellent mechanic, offered to mechanise the new method thanks to a "piston plank". The pistons activated needles which struck a carbon sheet and deposited ink dots on the paper. The apparatus became the first typewriter used by the blind and came to be called a "raphigraph", a term made up of two Greek words: "raphis" (needle) and "graphien" (writing).

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Raphigraph
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Final Farewell

He remained at the Institution until the very end. He fell ill at the beginning of December 1851 after fighting Tuberculosis from the age of 26. He passed away in the evening, surrounded by his friends.

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Final Farewell
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200th anniversary

The current series of Canadian banknotes, Mexican bank notes, Indian Rupee notes and Israeli New Shekel notes also have special raised symbols to make them identifiable by the visually impaired. The Indian 50 rupee note has a raised black square and the 100 rupee note has a raised black triangle. A special Two Rupee Coin was issued to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Louis Braille.

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200th anniversary
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