Wednesday Words & Phrases: Braille

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Braille is a tactile writing system used by people who are blind or visually impaired. It is traditionally written with embossed paper.

The origin of the system, and later the word, came from a young French artillery officer in 1819, Captain Charles Barbier de la Sierra. Faced with the difficulty of reading his orders at night and trying avoid the dangers of lighting a lantern and thus giving away his position to the enemy, Barbier came up with a code of embossed writing that allowed him to read the messages in the dark. The method used raised dots on paper, each cluster indicating a letter  that the user would be able to feel on the paper. Though revolutionary, the military took no interest in it.

Shortly after, a teacher at the French National Institute for Blind Children, Louis Braille, took an interest and began using the system in his school. From there the usage grew until it became the standard for visual impaired writing.

All thanks to a French military man that had trouble reading in the dark.