Education Languages

World Braille Day

Every 4th of January, is celebrated the World Braille Day, the alphabetic embossed system created to represent letters, punctuation marks, numbers and mathematic symbols contributing to the blind people a valid and efficient tool for Reading, writing and giving the Access to the education, the culture and the information.

It consists on a combination of six raised points divided into cells, organized as a matrix of 3 rows and 2 columns that allows to get 64 different combinations, including the one without a point, which is used as blank (to separate the words), also the differentiating special signs to convert a capital letter, number or a musical note. Usually they are listed top to bottom and left to right.

The UN has recognized and proclaimed the World Braille Day, to celebrate each 4th of January, highlighting multilingualism as a basic value of de UN. The principal main is promote awareness about the importance of braille as a media for full human fulfillment toward the blind people or visually impaired individuals. This day was chosen because of the inventor of the language, Louis Braille birthday (January 4th, 1809).

Louis was playing with some tools in his father’s workshop, and he had an accident with the sharp awl in one of his eyes, so he got an infection, that soon spread and blinding him in both eyes when he was 3 years old. He was learnt to read by feeling studs hammered into pieces of wood in the shapes of letters and numbers. Later, when he was 10 years old, he was accepted in a school, called Institute for Blind Children in Paris where they used crossed twigs were used to signify the letters of the alphabet. There, he also learnt to play cello and organ.

The idea of create the braille language started by the French Captain Charles Barbier, after the Napoleonic Wars; he invented the “night writing” that consisted of raised dots on cardboard used to send written messages on battlefields by night. The Captain continued promoting his writing method to other militaries, but they refused to use it. In 1820, Captain Barbier had the idea that maybe his system could be used by the blind people, so he took it to the school in the rue St-Victor (where Louis was a student).

Louis was tasked to evaluate the Barbiers system; he thought it was interesting but very plain to help blind people. Since that day, Louis Braille got inspired to adapt and complete his own system. And till 1824 (when he was 15 years old), finally he had finished his six dots system in varying patterns cells as domino, providing 63 permutations for different letters and numbers, including the “space” symbol. Later he also included musical notes.

The other students started using his method, because it was a tool to learn easily. Nevertheless, the school didn’t make it official because of the high price, they didn’t have enough money. Years later, Louis Braille, started to teach in that school using his own method of learning.

In 1826, he published his 32 pages book, named “Method of Writing Language, Plain Chant and Music, by Means of Raised Points for the Use of Blind Persons” (printed in embossed text).

Curious fact: on December 30 of 2014, the Braille language had been patented; therefore, it limited its use in any product. The Spanish Braille Commission and the ONCE Foundation, fought for the freedom of use, fulfilling the communicative and inclusive purpose.

As usual, there you have a video in which Deinny, a nine years old girl (part of the skating team, she plays some percussion instruments, sings, participate in the Astronomy club, she loves to read and enjoys every single moment of her live even though she could not see), she teach us how the braille system works and how her process has been.

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