Who Was Louis Braille?
Written by Margaret Frith
Louis Braille certainly wasn’t your average teenager. Blind from the age of four, he was only fifteen when in 1824 he invented a reading system that converted printed words into columns of raised dots. Through touch, Braille opened the world of books to the sightless, and almost two hundred years later, no one has ever improved upon his simple, brilliant idea.
Primary Source Pairing:
It is hard to imagine the perseverance Louis Braille embodied over 200 years ago. His creation of an alphabet of raised letters created the opportunity for people who were blind to read, write, communicate, and create for generations to come. For this primary source pairing, invite students to investigate the Braille alphabet. Use the image above as a starting place.
For a more hands-on primary source analysis experience, Braille Alphabet Cards are available for purchase from the National Braille Press. Request one free card or purchase a set of 35 for $8.50. Delivery takes 2-3 weeks, so plan ahead.
Additionally, explore options to add a few Braille materials to your school library collection temporarily or permanently. Many local libraries have Braille books in their collection; check a few titles out for students to use in the school library. Braille books can be purchased from Amazon and local bookstores. Finally, check out the online bookstore of the National Braille Press in Boston. A wide variety of titles are available, many of which are in the same picture book format allowing children to experience the Braille text while reading the book’s printed text.
Questions for Discussion:
- What do you notice first?
- Find something small but interesting.
- What do you notice that you didn’t expect?
- What do you notice that you can’t explain?
- What do you notice that you didn’t earlier?
- What can you learn from examining this image?
Questions to Guide Exploration of Braille Text / Alphabet Card:
- What do you notice first when you look at the Braille text?
- What do you feel first when you touch the Braille text?
- How can you describe what you see?
- How can you describe what you feel?
- How would reading Braille be different than reading the printed text? How would it be the same?
Book Cover and Summary: Follett
Braille Alphabet Card: National Braille Press