Personalities Page 74

Louis Braille was the fourth child of Monique and Simon-René in the small French town of Coupvray. Because of an early childhood accident in his father’s workshop, Louis Braille lost both his eyes due to an infection (He damaged his eye and then the eye got infected and the infection spread to the other eye). As a result of that He was completely blind in both eyes at the age of 5.

After studying in his hometown until the age of ten, realizing his genius and intellect, his parents sent him to one of the few schools for the blind where he would learn many things, most significantly the fact that there were very limited resources available for the blind to read. At the National Institute for Blind Youth, Braille became familiar with a reading system that the school founder, Valentin Haüy, had come up with.

Braille also found out that it was extremely difficult to read as much as he desired through Haüy system. It was a system based on raised letters on paper. Now, the process was extremely time consuming and quite expensive, so the books available in that system were scarce. Another downside to Haüy system was that it was impossible for the blind to write, hence they were unable to communicate in written language.

After he finished his studies Braille remained at his school and became a teacher, teaching many subjects to the institute’s students. He was also quite talented in music. In fact, he became an organist and played for different churches in France.

The origins of the Braille system as we know it today come from a French army Captain, Charles Barbier de la Serre. He invented this system of raised dots on paper, or any other surface, because he wanted soldiers to be able to communicate without making a noise and when there was no light.