In the early nineteenth century, Louis Braille, a French educator, invented a code of reading and writing that revolutionized literacy for the blind. By the age of five, Braille was blind in both eyes due to an accident that caused a severe infection in his eyes. He did not let his disability hinder his education.
Incredibly bright and gifted, Braille impressed all of his teachers and was admitted to one of the first schools for blind children in the world. He was an excellent student and read all the books of the school. Braille was so respected and admired by students and staff that he became a teacher’s aide, then a full professor at the school. Braille taught there nearly his entire life.
At the school Braille learned to read using a system created by the school’s founder. The system was limited and did not allow the children to write or read complex subjects because of the way the books were made. Through it, however, Braille discovered touch to read without sight.
As a teenager, Braille was determined to come up with a better system of reading and writing so that the blind and the sighted could communicate better together. He learned about a code of dashes and dots used by the French army. The dashes and dots were impressed into thick paper, and the soldiers could read them entirely with their fingers, allowing them to share information on the battlefield in the dark and without speaking.
Braille used this idea to come up with a more simplified and efficient code, which he completed by the age of 15. A few years later, he published his system, adding symbols for math and music.
Braille’s system wasn’t adopted anywhere, including his own school, until after his death at age 43. The genius of Braille’s method soon became recognized by international educators, and it quickly spread throughout Europe. American schools for the blind adopted Braille’s system in 1916. Today braille is the leading system of reading and writing for the blind worldwide.
CENTERED ON CHRIST
Braille was a devoted Christian who never sought his own glory. In writing about his invention, Braille did not take all the credit, repeatedly praising the Army captain whose code inspired Braille’s own system. A modest and humble man, Braille quietly served others, never boasting about his many acts of kindness and charity. On his deathbed, Braille is reported as saying, “God was pleased to hold before my eyes the dazzling splendors of eternal hope. After that, doesn’t it seem that nothing more could keep me bound to the earth?”