Did you know that January is National Braille Literacy Month? The popular tactile reading and writing system allows visually impaired individuals around the world to read with their fingertips and to write using assistive devices. The system that uses combinations of raised dots to spell out letter and punctuations has allowed countless individual to persevere, learn about and interact with the world. We thought it was the perfect time to explore some facts about Braille that you might not know.
A Teenager's Vision
After suffering a terrible accident as a young child that left him blind, creator Louis Braille spent his early teenage years piecing together his system to provide himself and others in the visually-impaired community an avenue to keep reading and engage in education -- his system was developed when he was only 15-years-old. By 1824, Louis had established the code that famously bears his name. Today it is utilized in almost every country and in almost every known language.
Published by 20
Braille's book, Method of Writing Words, Music, and Plain Songs by Means of Dots, for Use by the Blind and Arranged for Them, arrived in classrooms in 1829, when he was just 20-years-old. The book detailed Braille's new system and how to produce everything from letters to musical notes and arithmetic symbols. The book played a large part in educating the visually impaired and contributed to the system's lasting influence.
Acceptance and Integration
Incorporated in 1854, the first American educational institution to accept Braille was the Missouri School for the Blind. Incredibly, the movement started with protests from unimpaired teachers who weren't willing to learn the system to implement it into the curriculum. But the movement eventually took hold and spread to both specialty and mainstream schools alike.
The yearly Braille Challenge for students who are blind is sponsored by the Los Angeles-based Braille Institute. Every year more than 14,000 students from the United States and Canada compete while testing their skills in different categories including reading comprehension and spelling. The event is split into age groups and awards winners with monetary prizes.
Don't Forget the Math
An alternate/special version of Braille exists specifically to teach mathematics. The "Nemeth Code", invented by Dr. Abraham Nemeth, can be utilized to transcribe math, calculus and algebra.
The impact Louis Braille had on the world continues to yield benefits for so many. His childhood accident paved the way to assist generation upon generation in achieving, persevering and prospering. Braille's legacy has provided inclusion and opportunity around the globe.