Braille is a tactile writing system used mainly by visually impaired people. Different ways of writing Braille are available. Common ones include using a braille writer, slate & stylus, an electronic braille note taker, and a computer connected to a braille embosser. Interestingly, Braille was created by a 15-year-old who lost his eyesight following a childhood accident. Keep reading to find out who this boy was, when the Braille was invented, and other braille facts you (probably) didn’t know.

1. Braille Was Named after its Creator, Louis Braille

In 1824, Louis Braille was only 15 years old when he developed the braille code. The young Frenchman had lost his eyesight following a childhood accident, so he was committed to finding a solution for his situation. Louis Braille developed his braille code based on the French alphabet – it was an improvement of night writing.

2. Braille Was Initially Inspired By a Military Code

Night writing, as it is now called, was developed in 1819 by French army soldiers under Napoleon’s orders. They used it to communicate at night with no light source. Louis Braille learned about it and used it as an inspiration for his Braille invention. Over time, a more usable and streamlined version of the braille alphabet was developed.

3. Playboy Magazine is Also Published in Braille

Playboy is a popular men’s lifestyle and entertainment magazine that has been around since 1953. Although the larger target market is people who can see, Playboy is also published in Braille for the visually impaired. At one point, the braille version was the sixth most popular periodical in the United States National Library Service for the Blind’s Braille magazine catalog.

4. Braille Takes up More Space than the Traditional Alphabet

Braille texts take up more space than traditional alphabets, and logically so. As such, books written in Braille are significantly larger than their print counterparts. For instance, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” is about 10 times the volume of the printed version. “Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary” is 72 volumes bigger than the regular version.

5. Louis Braille Was Massively “Fought” in the Beginning

Although Louis Braille’s invention was much more efficient for people who were visually impaired than embossed letters, it wasn’t readily accepted in the beginning. The books that Louis and his classmates had transcribed into Braille were burned because the school thought the effectiveness of Braille threatened their revenue. Braille wasn’t actively used throughout the inventor’s lifetime.

6. There Is a Special Braille for Learning Math

A Braille version uses the Nemeth Code to help visually impaired people effectively learn mathematics. Invented by Dr. Abraham Nemeth, this Braille version can effectively transcribe calculus, algebra, and other math concepts.

7. Japanese Beer Cans Have Braille Texts

While this is not a regulation or direction from the Japanese authorities, some brewers in the region (such as Asahi) place braille texts on their beer cans so the visually impaired know what they are about to take. The braille texts help them distinguish beer cans from soft drinks.

8. Braille Is No Longer As Popular As It Once Was

According to studies, less than 10% of blind Americans can read Braille. This is significantly less compared to the more than 50% of people who could read braille texts in the 1950s. Experts attribute this significant drop to the shortage of braille teachers, more reliance on technology, and braille texts being seen as outdated.

9. The Same Object that Blinded Braille’s Creator Was Used to Invent the Reading System

When Louis Braille was three years old, he accidentally hurt his eyes using a stitching awl. Unfortunately, the struck eye developed an infection that spread to the other healthy eye, resulting in his total blindness. Coincidentally, slightly more than a decade later, Louis Braille used a stitching awl to create the braille reading system for the visually impaired.

10. There Is a Prisoners’ Program that Help Repair Braille Machines and Do Braille Transcription for the Blind Community

Formally known as Volunteers of Vacaville, the California-based nonprofit organization comprises volunteer prisoners committed to helping the blind community. In the program, willing inmates repair braille machines, do braille transcription, and record books to tape.

Interestingly, one of the biggest contributors to this program is Edmond Kemper, a serial killer convicted of murdering seven women and one girl. He was also portrayed in Netflix’s Mindhunter series. According to reports, Edmond Kemper has completed several hundred recordings in his name.

11. Drive-Thru ATMs Have Braille for Visually Impaired People

It is a federal mandate for ATMs to have Braille. In drive-thru ATMs, the Braille helps visually impaired people efficiently operate while riding as rear passengers. The logic is to boost financial privacy by allowing the visually impaired to bank without disclosing their PIN numbers to the driver.

12. Even the Visually Impaired Can Have Dyslexia

Sometimes referred to as a learning disability, dyslexia is a condition where the patient has difficulty reading. It is mostly caused by the patient having problems identifying speech sounds and figuring out how they relate to letters and words.

Although dyslexia is largely associated with learners who can see, there is blind dyslexia, where an individual is affected when reading Braille.

13. There Are Parks with Signs Written in Braille for the Visually Impaired

There are several parks around the world specially designed for the visually impaired – the St. Stephen’s Green public park in Dublin, Ireland, is a perfect example. The garden has scented plants that can withstand handling, and the signs are written in Braille. Other examples include the Brooklyn Botanical Garden and the Montreal Botanical Garden in Quebec, Canada.

14. Braille Isn’t Universal

If you haven’t studied Braille, it might come as a surprise that the writing system isn’t universal; it comes in different languages. If anything, there are braille languages for most dialects spoken today. Despite the efforts of Unified English Braille (UEB) to move Braille toward uniformity by establishing massive correspondences between the alphabets, braille languages still remain unique and distinct.

15. There Is a World Braille Day

Every January 4, people celebrate World Braille Day. They take time to raise awareness of the importance of Braille as a means of communication in fully realizing the human rights of blind and partially sighted people. It is also a day to honor and recognize Louis Braille and his creation.

Categorized in:


Last Update: May 7, 2024