Braille: Facts About Tactile System For Blind People

Enjoy these facts about Braille

Braille is invented by blind French educator Louis Braille in 1824 and this tactile system has been helping a lot of blind people in reading and writing for nearly 200 years.

When Louis was three years old, he accidentally stabbed himself in his right eye with an awl. Based on the article in Mental Floss, that same tool from his father’s harness shop became his tool to press dots into paper while perfecting the system he created.

He was just 15 years old when he invented his reading and writing system. While attending school, he adapted the military code developed by Charles Barbier and the French army. It is known as the Écriture Nocturne or night writing.

Credit: All About Vision

In this system, the code translated phonetic sounds into grids of raised dots in two columns of six dots each. Then, each grid represents one sound. 

There are uncontracted (each letter is spelled out) and contracted (shorthand, abbreviated version) braille, and this system has special codes for math and other subjects.

A blind person can read the braille faster than a sighted person can read written material. The latter can read 300 words per minute while a blind person an average of 400 words.

Since this system has a different way of representing words, books can occupy more space compared to normal books. Aside from books, popular games, toys, and other products are available in braille versions. Devices using this system also integrate seamlessly with computers and the internet.

louis braille
Credit: The Described and Captioned Media

Technically braille is not a language but a system for writing. However, there are 133 “languages” that are using this system. In the US, blind people use the English version of this system while in other countries like China, Spain, France, and many more, they use their own language in this system.

Through the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), blind people can access ATMs more easily because the machines feature have braille features.

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