Thursday, July 28, 2005

Reading in the Dark

Did you know the Braille method of reading for the visually impaired was developed from a military innovation for reading in the dark? Capt. Charles Barbier, a French cavalry officer of the early 19th Century, devised a system of pressing different dot-and-dash configurations into heavy paper. Though a tedious process, this point-writing code enabled commanders to exchange brief dispatches that could be read by touch at nighttime.

Louis Braille, a blind student from Coupvray, was only 15 years old when, in 1824, he transformed Barbier’s technique into the famous system that bears his name. Braille communication is arguably one of the most important inventions in history.


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