World Braille Day 2021: Who was Louis Braille? The importance of Braille Day

World Braille Day 2021: Who was Louis Braille? The importance of Braille Day

Reading and writing are two of the most useful and important things that people can learn. As said by many, they are the two pillars of education and the learning process of human beings. But there are many specially-abled people around the world who follow a different method of reading.

A method that has enabled millions of blind people to obtain education, training, and success in life.

Braille is a form of written language for blind people, in which characters are represented by patterns of raised dots that are felt with the fingertips.

Did you know there is also a day that marks the importance of braille?

World Braille Day is observed every year on 4 January to create awareness of the importance of braille as a means of communication in the full realization of the human rights for blind and visually impaired people.

As many establishments such as banks, restaurants, hospitals still don’t offer braille versions of their printed materials, the day serves as a reminder of the importance of accessibility and independence for people who are visually impaired.

The date for World Braille Day was chosen by the United Nations General Assembly via a proclamation in November 2018. The first world Braille Day was celebrated on 4 January 2019.

The day also commemorates the birth anniversary of Louis Braille, the man who invented braille in the year 1809.

Who was Louis Braille? How did he lose his eyesight?

Louis Braille was a French educator who invented braille. His system still remains the most widely used medium of reading for blind people around the world.

Louis Braille was blinded in one eye at the age of three after an accident with a stitching awl in his father’s harness-making shop. 

Braille was trying to make holes in a piece of leather with an awl when he pressed down too hard to drive the sharp point in.  As he was working with partially closed eyes, the awl went through the leather and stabbed in one of the eyes. This resulted in total blindness after an infection set in and spread to both eyes.

But despite all the challenges, he excelled in education and quickly mastered his new way of reading and communicating.

He invented braille which, ironically, used an awl-like stylus to punch marks in the paper that could be felt and interpreted by blind people.

Braille was essentially a representation of alphabetic and numerical symbols using six dots to represent each letter and number. Historically, the system is based on a tactile military code called night writing that was developed by Charles Barbier in response to Napoleon’s demand for a means for soldiers to communicate silently at night without any source of light.