Braille is a
system of writing for the blind, using combinations of raised dots
to be read with the fingertips. This method of teaching the blind to
read was developed by a French teacher of the blind, Louis Braille.
Louis Braille was blinded in an accident at the age of three and was
educated with sighted children at the village school. Even without
school books, his retentive mind enabled him, just by listening to
the teacher's words, to forge ahead of his classmates.
Braille became a teacher at the National Institute of the Blind in
Paris and devoted all his spare time to the search for a truly
readable writing for the blind. Without books, he realized the blind
could never really learn. Charles Barbier, a French army officer,
had worked out a system of writing consisting of embossed dots and
dashes to be used for communication on the battlefield at night.
From this he demonstrated to Braille a reading method for the blind
called sonography. Although his system was too complex to be truly
feasible for touch reading, Braille recognized its value as a basis
for a kind of dot writing that would be simple and small enough to
suit the dimensions and perceptual span of the fingertips and permit
instantaneous identification of letters.
Louis Braille, at only 15 years of age, worked on developing this
unique reading method. By cutting the height of Barbier's dot matrix
in half, he derived the "Braille cell," which resembled the six
points of a domino but smaller, from which 63 dot patterns could be
formed. For convenience in describing these dot patterns, Braille
numbered the six dots of his cell 1,2,3 downward on the left, and
4,5,6 downward on the right. To 26 of the 63 patterns he assigned
the values of the 26 letters of the Roman alphabet.
Braille is available to the blind in all the various forms of
written expression - word, numbers, and the notations for
punctuation, mathematics, science and music. Individuals who are
blind are able to take notes by using a slate and stylus and a thick
piece of paper. The thick paper lies between the plates of the metal
slate which has window-like openings on one side and the opposite
side has the six indentions of a Braille cell. A stylus is used to
punch out the dots. A Perkins Brailler, like a typewriter, allows
the user to Braille several lines, even pages, of Braille more
quickly than a slate and stylus. Today’s technology allows users to
use a Braille printer, enabling the user to type information on a
computer using a regular keyboard and then printing the information
Lighthouse for the Blind offers Braille classes at its Corpus
Christi location through the Hadley School for the Blind. Through
this program, persons who are blind or visually impaired can learn
Grade 1, Grade 2, and Nemith Braille.