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Louis Braille

French inventor of the Braille writing system for the blind.

Until the early 1800s raised letters had been used, which were very difficult to distinguish. In 1821 a soldier presented a new system to the school for the blind that Louis Braille attended (he was blind from age four). The soldier, Charles Barbier, had devised a writing system of raised dots intended for use in military communication at night, but the army had rejected it. The young Braille realized how useful the idea would be for the blind, if simplified. After years of experimentation he arrived at the ideal, still current, of an array of 6 dots: 2 wide by 3 high. The first Braille book was published in 1827. Unfortunately the inventor did not live to see the success of his system; it was an Englishman, Dr. Thomas Armitage (1824–1890) and founder of the RNIB, who secured that.

Braille is now almost universal for writing for the blind.

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