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Louis Braille (1809-1852)

Louis Braille (1809–1852) Louis Braille was born in 1809 in the village of Coupvray, near Paris. He lost his sight when he was three as the result of an accident with a tool in his father’s harness-making shop. He began his education by sitting in on classes in the village school, and at the age of ten he was awarded a scholarship to the Royal Institute for Blind Youth (Institution des jeunes aveugles) in Paris.

At the Royal Institute, students were taught to read books that used embossed print letters. Reading was very slow, and it was impossible to write anything by hand. Braille was inspired after an army captain visited to demonstrate “night writing.” Night writing was created to allow soldiers to communicate silently on the battlefield using a raised-dot alphabet. Braille found the system complicated, and, between the ages of thirteen and sixteen, he worked to modify it, changing a twelve-dot system to the six-dot cell that is still in use today.

At the age of twenty, Braille published Procedure for Writing Words, Music, and Plainsong in Dots, but students had to learn braille on their own because his method was not officially taught during his lifetime. Braille became a professor at the Royal Institute and remained there, teaching history, geometry, and algebra, until his death in 1852.

Louis Braille did not receive formal recognition in his lifetime. The braille code was not adopted in France as the official reading and writing system for people who are blind until 1854. In 1878, the World Congress for the Blind followed suit, making braille official worldwide.

The French government marked the centennial of Louis Braille’s death by honoring him as a national hero and moving his remains from the village cemetery in Coupvray to Paris to be interred in the Pantheon. Some of the inhabitants of Coupvray objected to losing their favorite son, so as a compromise, Braille’s hands remain in a casket atop his empty tomb.

Digital braille and talking book titles can be downloaded from the NLS BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) service. Contact your local cooperating library to register for BARD. Registered users may also download audio titles on iOS and Android devices using the BARD Mobile app. Braille titles may be downloaded using the app on a device linked by Bluetooth to a refreshable braille display. To find your local cooperating library, go to www.loc.gov/nls/findyourlibrary or call toll-free 888-NLS-READ (888-657-7323).

Triumph over Darkness: The Life of Louis Braille
by Lennard Bickel

Biography of Frenchman Louis Braille (1809–1852), who perfected a raised-dot alphabet code named in his honor when he was only fifteen. Discusses the development of the system of reading and writing that opened the world of learning for people who are blind. 1988.
Download DB68015
Download BR17820

Louis Braille: Windows for the Blind
by J. Alvin Kugelmass

Biography of the inventor of the system of reading that opened the world of books to people who are blind. Though Braille’s revolutionary innovation remained unrecognized during his lifetime, it is now used in every language and in every country throughout the world. For high school and adult readers. 1951.
Download DB09596

Louis Braille: A Touch of Genius
by C. Michael Mellor

Biography of Louis Braille (1809–1852), a blind Frenchman who by age sixteen designed a code of raised dots enabling people who are blind to read and write easily. Discusses his schooling, his love of music, and the advantages of his tactile reading system. For junior and senior high and older readers. 2006.
Download DB63350
Download BR16790

The Reading Fingers: Life of Louis Braille, 1809–1852
by Jean Roblin

Covers Braille’s family background and how he became blind. Discusses his education, love for music, and contribution to intellectual advancement through his raised-dot system for reading. Translated from French. 1952.
Download BR14555

Children

A Picture Book of Louis Braille
by David A. Adler

Presents the life of the nineteenth-century Frenchman who was accidentally blinded as a child. Louis Braille originated the raised dot system of reading and writing used throughout the world by visually impaired individuals. For grades K-3. 1997.
Download DB53405

Louis Braille: Inventor
by Jennifer Bryant

Recounts the life of Louis Braille who, at fifteen, created a system of raised dots that allows people who are blind to read and write. Describes his childhood, the accident that caused his blindness, the support he received from his family, and his education, which led to his creation of the braille alphabet. For grades 5-8 and older readers. 1994.
Download DB46863
Download BR11716

Six Dots
by Jennifer Bryant

A narrative biography of Louis Braille, who lost his sight as a young child while playing in his father’s workshop. After being exposed to coded military messages at the Royal School for the Blind in Paris, Louis invented his own alphabet—a system for writing using six dots. For grades K-3. 2016.
Download DB86519
Download BR21722

Louis Braille, the Boy Who Invented Books for the Blind
by Margaret Davidson

Louis Braille was blinded in an accident at the age of three in the early 1800s. His desire to learn earned him a place at the Royal Institute for Blind Youth in Paris. Young Louis’s excitement at being in the school was dampened by the tedious method of using raised letters to read. Louis developed the dot alphabet now called braille. For grades 3-6. 1971.
Download DB41325
Download BR09495

Out of Darkness: The Story of Louis Braille
by Russell Freedman

Louis Braille accidentally blinded himself with one of his father’s tools when he was three years old. In 1819, at the age of ten, Braille began attending the Royal National Institute for Blind Youth in Paris, where, by the age of fifteen, he had developed a system of raised dots for reading and writing that is now used worldwide by people who are blind. For grades 4-7 and older readers. 1997.
Download DB44992
Download BR11319

Louis Braille
by Stephen Keeler

Blinded at the age of three, Louis Braille was a hardworking, dedicated teacher at the Institute for Blind Youth in Paris. He developed a simple system of reading and writing for people who are blind. Although he died unknown and before his system was accepted, today it is used around the world. For grades 2-4. 1986.
Download DB26767

The World at His Fingertips
by Barbara O’Connor

A biography of Frenchman Louis Braille (1809–1852), who was accidentally blinded as a child and who as a teenager developed an alphabet of raised dots. Relates his struggle to gain government backing for the reading and writing system that is now called "braille" in his honor. For grades 3-6. 1997.
Download DB69606

Spanish Language

Louis Braille: El Inventor del Alfabeto de Puntos en Relieve Que Ha Abierto las Puertas de la Cultura a Millones de Ciegos
by Beverley Birch

Life and times of the nineteenth-century Frenchman who invented the braille writing system for people who are blind. Born in 1809, he died in 1852 at age forty-three. For high school and older readers. Spanish language. 1991.
Download BR11453

Los Dedos Que Leen: Vida de Luis Braille, 1809–1952
by Jean Roblin

Covers Braille’s family background and how he became blind. Discusses his education, love for music, and contribution to intellectual advancement through his raised-dot system for reading. Spanish language. 1952.
BRF00807

French Language

Louis Braille: L’Inventeur Du Langage Qui Permit Aux Aveugles De Lire
by Beverley Birch

Story of Louis Braille. At the age of thirteen, he was inspired by a tactile reading system used in the French Army to create a simple system of writing and reading consisting of raised dots, which allowed millions of blind people around the world to read, understand, and communicate effectively in writing. French language. 1990.
BRF02103

Les Doigts Qui Lisent: Vie De Louis Braille, 1809-1852
by Jean Roblin

Covers Braille’s family background and how he became blind. Discusses his education, love for music, and contribution to intellectual advancement through his raised-dot system for reading. French language. 1952.
BRF00284

Portuguese Language

Louis Braille, Sua Vida e Seu Sistema
by Teresinha Fleury de Oliveira Rossi

Brazilian publication, issued in celebration of the 1975 Louis Braille Commemorative, reviews the life of the inventor of braille, describes the braille writing system, and surveys braille usage in the world, particularly in Brazil. Portuguese language. 1975.
BRF00413

Luis Braille: Janelas Para Os Cegos
by J. Alvin Kugelmass

Biography of the inventor of the system of reading that opened the world of books to the blind. Though Braille’s revolutionary innovation remained unrecognized during his lifetime, it is now used in every language and in every country throughout the world. For high school and adult readers. Portuguese language. 1975.
BRF00154

Estonian Language

Louis Braille: Ajaloolis-Biogaafiline Ulevaade
by Petr Dmitrievich

Krasnousov
Historical-biographical sketch of Louis Braille, nineteenth-century French musician, teacher of the blind, and inventor of the braille system of writing and musical notation. Estonian language. 1976.
BRF01683

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