The History of World Braille Day
World Braille Day is celebrated on the birthday of the inventor of Braille, Louis Braille, on the 4th of January every year. The day observes the importance of equality in literacy and accessibility among the blind and visually impaired, and promotes the importance of Braille as a valuable reading and writing tool among the visually impaired.
When Louis Braille was just a child, he was involved in an accident which led to his blindness. For this, he attended the National Institute for Blind Youth in Paris.
Before Braille was invented, the blind were taught to read using the Hauy system, which only enabled them to learn how to read and not write. Louis Braille began exploring ways to create a system which didn’t limit the blind and visually impaired to reading only, but taught them how to write too.
Inspired by the Ecriture Nocturne night writing system, Louis worked tirelessly at creating the Braille system. The Ecriture Nocturne was invented by Charles Barbier, which was used for sending the military messages at night and enabled them to read the coded message with their fingers, without any light. In the 19th century, when Louis was just 15 years old, he had completed his invention.
The Braille system is a system of raised dots which can be read by the blind using their fingers. The raised dots are formed within different units which are known as Braille cells. Each cell represents either an alphabet letter, number, punctuation, mark, or an entire word.
Unfortunately, Louis Braille did not live to see the success of his Braille system. In 1853, at the age of 43, Louis Braille succumbed to his long-term respiratory illness which worsened over the years. A year after his death, Braille became the official communication system for the blind and visually impaired in France, his home country. In 1860, The Missouri School for the Blind in St. Louis started teaching Braille. Today, Braille can be taught in many different languages.
In 2018, the UN General Assembly announced the 4th of January as the official World Braille Day. This day has been observed since 2019.