What Is the History of Braille?


Quick Answer

Braille was invented in 1824 by Louis Braille, a blind French schoolboy, based on a tactile military code invented by Charles Barbier. In 1937, Braille adjusted the system to allow for the expression of both math and music. The system is currently in use by blind people around the world since it can be used to convey almost any language.

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Full Answer

When Louis Braille attended the National Institute for Blind Youth in Paris, the few books available were written in a type of raised print that was difficult to read. In 1821, Charles Barbier presented to the students a system of raised symbols he had invented for soldiers to communicate silently with each other without light. The symbols represented phonetic sounds.

Braille began with Barbier's system, but he simplified it and used the symbols to represent letters instead of sounds. His system was finished when he was only 15 years old and was adopted by his school almost immediately. Although Braille is now used by blind people in almost every language in the world, it did not become widespread during its inventor's lifetime. Although Braille began as a literal translation of each letter to its corresponding symbol, in its present form it uses so many contractions and abbreviations that it is more like shorthand, and it is considered to be an independent writing system.

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