World Braille Day is observed every January 4, to celebrate the invention of this unique reading and writing system and also to raise awareness of Braille’s importance as a means of communication for blind and partially sighted people around the world.
This day was chosen as it is the birthday of its inventor, Louis Braille who was born in France on this day in 1809.
Braille was blinded in both eyes in early childhood and despite his disability excelled at school and gained a scholarship to France’s Institut National des Jeunes Aveugles (Royal Institution for Blind Youth) in Paris.
While studying there and when he was only fifteen years old, Braille developed a system which is a tactile representation of alphabetic and numerical symbols using a series of six dots that can represent letters, numbers, scientific, mathematical and even musical symbols. Braille based this system on an earlier code designed by a fellow compatriot, Charles Barbier de la Serre called “Ecriture Nocturne” (Night Writing). Braille refined and simplified this earlier system.
The innovative and world-changing invention of Braille enables blind and partially sighted people to read the same literature printed in visual fonts in almost any language and can also be used for writing. Braille allows for the communication of information for the blind and partially sighted to facilitate independence and equality.
As well as being used for regular literature, Braille is used on banknotes in a number of countries including Canada, the UK, India, Israel, Russia, Australia and Mexico. In the US and other countries there are regulations that require building signage to be in Braille and in the UK and some other countries all medicines must be labelled in Braille.
One of the many services ISI offers is the translation of documents into Braille, which our health care clients use frequently so that their blind and visually impaired members can have the same access to important information as sighted people.