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Braille Essay

Braille is named after its creator, Frenchman Louis Braille, who went blind following a childhood accident. At the age of 15, Braille developed his code for the French alphabet in 1824 as an improvement on night writing. He published his system, which subsequently included musical notation, in 1829. The second revision, published in 1837, was the first digital (binary) form of writing. History Braille was based on a tactile military code called night writing, developed by Charles Barbier in response to Napoleon’s demand for a means for soldiers to communicate silently at night and without light.

In Barbier’s system, sets of 12 embossed dots encoded 36 different sounds. It proved to be too difficult for soldiers to recognize by touch, and was rejected by the military. In 1821 Barbier visited the National Institute for the Blind in Paris, where he met Louis Braille. Braille identified two major defects of the code: first, by representing only sounds, the code was unable to render the orthography of the words; second, the human finger could not encompass the whole 12-dot symbol without moving, and so could not move rapidly from one symbol to another.

Braille’s solution was to use 6-dot cells and to assign a specific pattern to each letter of the alphabet. At first, braille was a one-to-one transliteration of French orthography, but soon various abbreviations, contractions, and even logograms were developed, creating a system much more like shorthand. The expanded English system, called Grade 2 Braille, was complete by 1905. For the blind today, braille is an independent writing system rather than a code of printed orthography.


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