Louis Braille is recognized worldwide as one of the greatest benefactors to people with blindness. Among his many accomplishments, Mr. Braille was a master organist, and a teacher but he’s best known for developing a new way of reading and writing for the blind – which by the way, he did by the age of 15. This new way of reading and writing would take on his name and be forever known as Braille. Like many great individuals he was born to humble beginnings, the son of a harness shop owner. He was born with sight, but lost his vision when he was three years old after he was poked in the eye with an awl, a sharp tool in his father’s shop, and it became infected. Fate would play a big role in Louis’ life and the future of all blind people. The first turn with fate was his attendance in the Royal Institution of Blind Youth in Paris France. At the time blind people could only learn by listening to their teachers. The only way to read was with books where the letters were raised on the page.
However, these books were very expensive to make and they were very hard to read. After a number of years at the Royal Institution, fate stepped in again and Braille met a soldier who had come up with a system of twelve raised dots that would allow soldiers to communicate at night by using their fingers to read. The system was very complicated to use, but Braille saw the great potential it had. He reduced the number of dots to six with various combinations representing the letters of the alphabet. A new way of reading and writing was born! He would become a teacher at the Royal Institute and would make improvements to his system, adding symbols for mathematics and music. His system was met with a great deal of skepticism at first. Sadly, Braille didn’t live long enough to see his system used widely. He died of tuberculosis in 1852 three days after his 43rd birthday. But fortunately, for the millions of blind people who have followed him, Braille has spread to every part of the world and made the written word available to all blind people.