Louis Braille (1809-1852)
<p><b>Louis Braille (1809-1852)</b><p>Louis Braille was born on the 4th January 1809 in a small village Coupvray near Paris. He lost his sight in an accident in his father’s workshop when he was only three years old. Despite his blindness, he had normally integrated in the elementary school and finished two years. At the age of ten, he obtained a scholarship of the Royal Institute for Blind Youth in Paris, one of the first such institutions in the world. In school, pupils learned the basic handicraft skills of simple professions, while also learning to read by touching the embossed letters in accordance with the system, which had been invented by the school founder, Valentin Haüy.<br> In 1821, Charles Barbier, captain of the French army, visited the school. He presented his invention Night writing, a system of codes, which was composed of 12 embossed points. The system should serve the secret communication of confidential data in battleground trenches without the use of voice, which could otherwise betray the position of the data giver. The system was too complicated for soldiers, and it hadn’t been accepted therefore. Young Braille had quickly established that such method of writing in a simplified version could be very useful to blind people. After a couple of months of testing, he invented a useful system, which was composed of only six embossed points. He continued with his work, and in the upcoming years he also developed special codes for mathematical and musical writing. In 1827, the first book in Braille’s writing was published.<br>The new system, which enabled reading as well as writing for the blind, was initially not accepted. It wasn’t even taught at the school, where the former student Braille had become a respected teacher, although he even published a detailed description of his developed method in 1839. Luckily, the students had recognized the advantages of Braille’s writing and learned it in secret. The real importance of Braille’s invention was recognized after the inventor’s death. His fellow countrymen repaid him 100 years later, when the posthumous remains of Braille were transferred to the Paris Pantheon, where deserving Frenchmen are buried.<p>Bojan Bračič, M.Sc.