Monday, January 04, 2010

The blind fellow above is number 134 on our hero list, and his name is Louis Braille born this day 1809 in Coupvray, France. If you have any trivia knowledge at all, you will recognize the name and what he is on our list for. But, since I have a post to do I will fill you in anyway. At the age of 3, Louis was playing with a sharp object of his father's, and poked himself in the eye. At first it did not seem to be a serious injury, but it became infected and he soon when blind in that eye, and due to something called sympathetic ophthalmia, soon lost his sight in both eyes. Blind at the age of 3, what a shit hand to be dealt, but our boy Louis was a bright boy, and was soon off to France's School for the Blind one of the first of its kind in the world. It was not as amazing at it sounds. The students were often fed stale bread, given only water to drink, and locked up as punishment. In 1821, a French army captain visited the school, and shared his night writing system. This system was based upon 12 raised dots, and allowed soldiers to communicate on the battlefield without speaking. The system was too complex for Louis, and he simplified it to 6 raised dots, and thus Braille was born. The simplest ideas are usually the best, and by the age of 15 our boy Louis had the system worked out enough to publish it. Like most trail blazers, Louis was not recognized as such in his lifetime. He became a teacher at the Institute for the Blind, but his system was not taught there. He died of tuberculosis, partly due to the bad air in the school. But, for allowing an entire group of people the ability to read and write without the luxury of sight, and opening new worlds to them through books, Louis Braille (January 4th, 1809-January 6th, 1852, at the age of 43), you are my hero of the day.

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