20 February, 2011

Braille....The Books to Touch

Louis Braille
About 175 years ago in France, a young man named Louis Braille thought of a way to help blind people read and write. He was himself blind and could not see. He had hurt his eyes when he was just only 3 years old. His father was a carpenter. One day while working with his tools he happened to go outside. Little Louis who was playing nearby came there and started playing with the tools. Just then he happened to pierce one of his eye with a sharp  pointed tool thus blinding himself. Later on the infection caused to blind his other eye as well.

Fortunately, Louis was a clever child. When he was only 10 years old, he won a scholarship to the National Institute for Blind Children in Paris.
reading the braille book with finger
At the school Louis came to know about how Captain Barbier, an army officer, had invented a system of writing consisting of dots arranged in different patterns. It was called 'night writing', and it helped soldiers read and understand messages in the dark. These messages consisted of small bump-like dots pressed on a sheet of paper. The dots were not only easy to make but also could be felt quickly and conveniently.

Braille alphabet, punctuations marks & numbers
Louis decided to develop a similar alphabet system for blind comprising of  similar dot patterns. He named this alphabet braille. In the beginning people did not give much importance to it and it took a lot of time to be accepted but eventually it proved a great success. 

His alphabet used 63 different dot patterns to represent letters, numbers, punctuation, and several other useful signs. People could even learn music with the help of these dot patterns.

Today this system of alphabet is used all over the world to educate blind people. 
In an Braille book, the tips of your fingers would be able to cover each small group of dots.
On their Web site, the American Foundation for the Blind has a great area where you can learn Braille yourself. If you want to learn braille log on to http://afb.org/and click on 'Braille Bug'.

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