January 11, 2021

National Braille Literacy Month and World Braille Day

- Future In Sight

person reading braille text

We start the year by celebrating National Braille Literacy Month throughout the month of January.

World Braille Day

This month-long recognition is launched earlier this month with World Braille Day on the 4th. This day was established by the UN General Assembly in December 2018. The date of January 4th was selected as it marks the birth anniversary of Louis Braille. Louis, who at the age of 15 invented the well-known tactile system for reading and writing which is used worldwide by people who are blind or visually impaired. If you are not familiar with it, Braille is a system of raised tactile dots that can be read with the fingertips and has been adopted by countries all around the world. Many recognize braille for its power to contribute to literacy, the ability to read and write, for individuals who are blind or have profound sight loss.

About Louis Braille

Louis Braille was born in France in 1809, and a tragic accident took his sight at 3 years old. He later attended the National Institute for Blind Youth in Paris, France, as a student.

How Braille Got Started

In that era, it was very difficult to produce reading material using raised print. Braille’s desire for more books led him to experiment with different ways to create an alphabet that was easy to read with the fingertips. The writing system that he invented, evolved from the tactile “Ecriture Nocturne” (night writing) code invented by Charles Barbier for sending military messages that could be read on the battlefield at night, without light. Since its development in the 1950’s, the Perkins Brailler has been the standard for embossing braille on paper. In 2011, David Morgan invented and led the development of the Perkins SmartBrailler, creating the opportunity for parents, children, and teachers to participate in the braille learning process.

If you would like to learn more about the creation of the braille code, please visit the AFB’s Louis Braille Online Museum.