[AI] The story of Louis Braille's life, told in a lively style
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Thu Jan 3 00:12:15 EST 2008
The story of Louis Braille's life, told in a lively style
Louis Braille (1809-1852)
Six dots. Six bumps. Six bumps in different patterns, like constellations,
spreading out over the page. What are they? Numbers, letters, words. Who
made this code? None other than Louis Braille, a French 12-year-old, who was
also blind. And his work changed the world of reading and writing, forever.
Louis was from a small town called Coupvray, near Paris-he was born on
January 4 in 1809. Louis became blind by accident, when he was 3 years old.
Deep in his Dad's harness workshop, Louis tried to be like his Dad, but it
went very wrong; he grabbed an awl, a sharp tool for making holes, and the
tool slid and hurt his eye. The wound got infected, and the infection
spread, and soon, Louis was blind in both eyes.
All of a sudden, Louis needed a new way to learn. He stayed at his old
school for two more years, but he couldn't learn everything just by
listening. Things were looking up when Louis got a scholarship to the Royal
Institution for Blind Youth in Paris, when he was 10. But even there, most
of the teachers just talked at the students. The library had 14 huge books
with raised letters that were very hard to read. Louis was impatient.
Then in 1821, a former soldier named Charles Barbier visited the school.
Barbier shared his invention called "night writing," a code of 12 raised
dots that let soldiers share top-secret information on the battlefield
without even having to speak. Unfortunately, the code was too hard for the
soldiers, but not for 12-year-old Louis!
Louis trimmed Barbier's 12 dots into 6, ironed out the system by the time he
was 15, then published the first-ever braille book in 1829. But did he stop
there? No way! In 1837, he added symbols for math and music. But since the
public was skeptical, blind students had to study braille on their own. Even
at the Royal Institution, where Louis taught after he graduated, braille
wasn't taught until after his death. Braille began to spread worldwide in
1868, when a group of British men, now known as the Royal National Institute
for the Blind, took up the cause.
Now practically every country in the world uses braille. Braille books have
double-sided pages, which saves a lot of space. Braille signs help blind
people get around in public spaces. And, most important, blind people can
communicate independently, without needing print.
Louis proved that if you have the motivation, you can do incredible things.
Where Can I Find a Picture of Louis Braille?
We hear this question a lot-why are there no photographs of Louis Braille on
the Braille Bug site?
We looked long and hard for a photograph of Louis Braille. But he died in
1852, and at that time photography had been around for only 13 years. It was
still a relatively difficult and rare process.
Also, Louis Braille's code for reading wasn't adopted by the school where he
taught until eight years before he died. France didn't officially adopt
Braille's system until two years after he died. It wasn't until 1890 that
the code was adopted in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, England, Germany, Spain,
and Scotland-and it took even longer to reach the United States. Louis
Braille really became more famous after his death!
Maybe people didn't think of taking a photo of him while he was alive
because they didn't know how famous he would later become. But someone did
think to take an old type of "photo" called a daguerreotype shortly after
his death. Here is a
portrait of Louis Braille
that was based on the daguerreotype. You can see this image, as well as
others, in a new biography from National Braille Press entitled Louis
Braille: A Touch of Genius . As the author notes, "This is the visage of a
dead man; in life, he kept his eyes open."
The only other image we have of Louis Braille is a sculpted bust, which can
be found at the school in Paris where he taught, the Royal Institution for
It's hard to remember in these days of digital cameras and instant pictures
how young photography actually is. Sculpture has been around for thousands
of years-photography for only 165 years!
- The Braille Bug
What is Braille?
What When you first look at something written in braille, all you see (or
feel) is a jumble of dots! However, like any other code, braille is based on
a logical system. Once you understand it, you'll be able to read and write
braille easily. That's because braille is not a language, it's just another
way to read and write English (or any other language, such as Japanese).
Learn more in "Braille: Deciphering the Code" and check out the other links
Braille: Deciphering the Code
Printable Braille Alphabet Key
braille alphabet card
...Overview of the Braille Bug Site...
table with 2 columns and 44 rows
Six tiny raised dots, ingeniously arranged by a fifteen-year-old boy nearly
two hundred years ago, have brought literacy to thousands of people with
visual disabilities worldwide. Louis Braille, the inventor of the braille
code, was born on January 4, 1809, so January is celebrated as Braille
Literacy Month. The Braille Bug web site for children was launched in
January 2002 to commemorate the achievements of this remarkable young
The information, activities, and games found on the Braille Bug web site are
designed to teach children in grades 3 through 6 about braille. As they
explore the site, children will be able to:
list of 6 items
. develop an appreciation for the efficiency and versatility of braille;
. learn why and how Louis Braille invented the literary braille code;
. understand the importance of braille for another famous blind person,
. learn to recognize braille letters and numbers;
. describe different ways to read and write braille, including the use of
. use suggested resources to learn more about braille, blindness, and
About Braille Literacy
Braille enables people who are blind or visually impaired to develop
literacy skills comparable to those of sighted people who read print. Those
who know braille can perform tasks as varied as jotting down a phone number,
writing a shopping list, solving a long division problem, reading a musical
score, or composing a doctoral thesis. Sighted elementary students initially
are fascinated by braille as a kind of "secret code." However, as they learn
more about braille and its many uses, they expand their knowledge of people
with disabilities and the accommodations they use to lead full and
Children who are blind or visually impaired can enjoy the activities on the
Braille Bug website right along with their sighted classmates. However, they
will need special software and/or hardware on their computers.
. Those with low vision have the option of
changing the color of the site
to increase contrast and make the text easier to see. They also may use
screen magnification software to enlarge the text and pictures on the
. Those who do not learn visually may access information and participate in
the games & activities by listening. To do this, they need to have a screen
reader installed on their computer that will read everything that appears on
the screen, including text, menus, icons, and alt tags. All the games and
activities are designed to be completely accessible. However, the objectives
for children who participate by listening are somewhat different from those
for children who access the site visually. Although they will not be
learning to recognize simulated braille letters and numbers, they will
benefit from practice using their screen readers as they select menu items,
listen to information, and play the games. Children with screen readers may
access the games that have simulated braille characters by listening to the
alt tags that give the dot numbers for each one. In this way, a player who
is blind can work on the same questions with a classmate or friend who is
sighted. This arrangement can promote the development of social interaction
skills for both children. Children who would like more practice using their
screen readers may also select the "
" game that provides clues in regular print letters and words, rather than
in simulated braille.
. Those who read braille may access the screen by using a refreshable
braille display or by downloading and printing out a hard copy of the file
on a braille embosser. Directions for creating a hard copy of any part of
this website are found in another submenu item under "
Parents and Teachers
" entitled "
How to Download Braille Files
The Home Page
The Braille Bug, a ladybug with the six dots of the braille cell on her
back, welcomes children to the website on the home page. There are four menu
items for them to choose from, in addition to the "Parents and Teachers"
Change the Colors of the Site
: Children have the option to change the color of the text and background
based on their personal preferences for comfortable viewing.
What is Braille?
Five submenu items provide children with information about the Braille
Code, tools used to read and write braille, and the life of Louis Braille.
It is recommended that children read "Braille: Deciphering the Code" before
attempting any of the games or activities under the next main menu item.
list of 5 items
Braille: Deciphering the Code
-An introduction to Louis Braille's systematic arrangement of dots in the
braille cell to form letters, punctuation marks, and numbers. In this
section children also learn about braille contractions and short-form words.
These are special symbols or spellings that reduce the amount of space
needed for writing words in braille.
-Interesting facts about braille
-A description of low- and high-tech tools used to read and write braille.
Printable Braille Alphabet
-A copy of the braille alphabet that students can print out and use as a
reference while playing the games, writing their own simulated braille
messages, or decoding braille words and numbers they find in the
-The story of Louis Braille's life told in a lively style.
Games and Secret Messages:
Children can explore a variety of interactive activities that challenge them
to decode simulated braille letters, words, and numbers on the screen. All
of the activities except the first one include a copy of the braille
alphabet and numbers for reference.
list of 7 items
See Your Name in Braille!
-Type in any name or other word, and watch it appear on the screen in
-Decode braille words related to a specific category, such as "Insects."
After a practice round, players earn points for correct answers.
-Read a riddle in print and decode the braille answer.
-A more difficult version of Trivia Mania. The braille letters for each word
in a specific category are scrambled. Players decode the letters, rearrange
them, and type their response. After a practice round, points are awarded
for each correct answer.
-Games designed for use with a screen reader or refreshable braille display.
-Decode the braille numbers, figure out the pattern (such as 2, 4, 6, 8),
and type the next number in the sequence. After a practice level, players
earn points for correct answers.
-Send a coded message to a friend by clicking on the letters of the braille
alphabet or typing in the text. When the message is sent via e-mail, the
friend will receive instructions on how to see it in braille and decode the
braillebug at afb.net
: The story of Louis Braille's life, told in a lively style.
Helen Keller Kids Museum Online
: A fascinating timeline of Helen Keller's life and achievements. Includes
photos, videos, letters, and more!
We hope that the children who use this site will enjoy learning about
braille and begin to understand its significance for people who are blind
and visually impaired. During the coming year, the Braille Bug website will
expand to include a Reading Club and Friends area. We welcome your comments
and suggestions, which may be sent to
braillebug at afb.net
More information about the AccessIndia