“Access to communication in the widest sense is access to knowledge, and that is vitally important for us if we [the blind] are not to go on being despised or patronized by condescending sighted people. We do not need pity, nor do we need to be reminded we are vulnerable. We must be treated as equals – and communication is the way this can be brought about.”
World Braille Day is an international day, celebrated every year to raise awareness of the significance of braille in education, communication, and society. As the Braille inventor, the creator of this writing system, Louis Braille was born on January 4, 1809, he is remembered every year on this day for his contribution to the world.
Today, because of his efforts and invention, every blind and a visually impaired individual can easily develop reading and writing ability. This communication system was determined to bridge the gap in communication between the sighted and the blind. Activists from around the world create awareness, and many companies and non-profit organizations conduct activities and run campaigns to throw light on the challenges faced by blind and visually impaired people.
The first World Braille Day was celebrated on January 4, 2019. The date for this event was selected by the United Nations General Assembly via a proclamation in November 2018. To this day, the Braille system remains virtually unchanged and is known worldwide simply as ‘Braille’.
Who is Louis Braille?
Louis Braille was born on January 4, 1809, in the small village of Coupvray, France. At the age of 10, he went to the Royal Institute for Blind Youth in Paris. Later, he became a French educator and inventor of Braille. He lost his eyesight completely at the age of 3 while playing with his father’s tools. An infection set in and spread to both eyes, resulting in total blindness. However, nothing has stopped him from achieving his goals. He excelled in his education and received a scholarship to France’s Royal Institute for Blind Youth.
How did he invent Braille?
Before the invention of the Braille system, blind individuals used to read using the Haüy system, in which there were embossed Latin letters on a thick paper. This system was complicated and required a lot of training. The handcrafted Haüy books all came in huge sizes and heavy weights for children. They were laboriously constructed, very fragile, and expensive to obtain.
Therefore, there was an urgent need for an easy and efficient reading and writing system for blinds. Louis got inspired by the military cryptography of Charles Barbier, who was an officer in Napoleon’s army, for this invention. Barbier noticed that there is a requirement for messages to be transmitted in battle in total darkness, after which, he created a tactile reading system called night writing. It was a difficult system to master, and Louis Braille refined it. Moreover, he formalized a unique tactile code for the blind, a method that was built specifically for the needs of the blind. He presented his work to his colleagues for the first time in 1824.
Braille was committed to inventing a reading and writing system to enable easy communication and education among blinds.
In Louis Braille’s own words: “Access to communication in the widest sense is access to knowledge, and that is vitally important for us if we [the blind] are not to go on being despised or patronized by condescending sighted people. We do not need pity, nor do we need to be reminded we are vulnerable. We must be treated as equals – and communication is the way this can be brought about.”