Louis Braille was born in the Coupvray, France on January 4, 1809. His mother and father were Monique and Simon Rene Braille. Louis was the youngest of four other children. Their names were Louis-Simon, Catherine-Josephine, and Marie-Celine. Louis’ father, Simon Rene, was a saddler. He made saddles and harnesses for horses. His father had also been a saddler. Louis family led a simple, ordinary life. They owned their farmhouse and seven and a half acres of land. Louis dad’s workshop was also on this land. The Braille’s didn’t have that much money, but there was always plenty of food on the table.
The family lived on a road called Chemin des Buttes. It would later be renamed to Rue Louis Braille. Louis would often visit his dad in the workshop. To Louis the shop was an exiting adventure every time he would walk in there. The workshop smelt of leather, and bridles, reins, and straps hung everywhere. In the middle of the workshop stood a bench with many sharp tool. Not a very safe place for a three year old. The tragedy is not known in perfect detail. Nor is the exact date known. But it happened sometime in the year 1812. The investigating three-year-old boy climbed onto he workbench in the workshop when his father was not looking.
Louis reached for an awl or knife. Soon after, people nearby heard yelling coming from the workshop. Louis was crying, and blood gushed down his face. His hands had slipped off the sharp tool, and the awl had cut into his eye. Louis mom and dad did every thing they could for the helpless child. They cleaned the bleeding eye and covered it up with bandages. When the bleeding stopped, they took Louis to the doctor. In those days doctors didn’t know a lot about helping infections. Powerless the doctor and the Braille family looked on as Louis’ infection spread to the other eye.
Every thing became blurry for Louis. He began to bump into things; he would drop things, and began to stumble constantly. His family took him to an eye doctor in a adjacent town, but the doctor couldn’t help the poor child. Louis’ sight got even worse each day. Eventually, he lost all sight in both eyes. Years pasted and Louis got use to his disability. At the age of ten he was finely able to go to school. A friend of Louis wanted to help him find a way to live on his own. He knew Louis was very smart and was capable of learning just by listing to the teacher, o Palluy when to the schoolmaster in town.
The schoolmaster was a newcomer to Coupvray. He was an eager young teacher who did not care what other people though of him, so he let Louis in to his school. Louis went to school every day with one of his friends. He listened to his teacher every day. He seemed to understand and remember everything he heard. The schoolmaster remembered that Paris had a special school for the blind. Palluy decided to try to enroll Louis in the special school. On February 15, 1819, Louis went to Paris with his dad to see the new school he would be enrolling in. The schools ame was the Royal Institution for Blind Children.
When Louis and his father finely got to Paris, Louis was very happy to be there. They were dropped off at the edge of the city. They walked to the Latin Quarter. This area of Paris was known for its many schools. Louis’ school was located on the Left Bank of the Seine River. Louis and his dad walked until they found the school at 68 Rue Saint-Victor. After Louis had settled in, he learned quickly to his teachers requirements. At the age of 13 Louis was finding out that all the systems that he was being taught were to difficult for him and other children.
He worked on some of the systems, one in particular the Captain Barbiers’ system even at thirteen he tried to convince the captain that he needed to change his system of writing for the blind. Louis gave up only after three months. Instead he was working on his own experiment. He worked on his experiment day and night. He even worked during the summer. Louis wanted his system perfect. He had also arranged the dots and dashes in a way that were clearly understood. He made every group of dots different. Louis’ alphabet was ready in October of 1824. A new school year had just begun.
He had found a way to make letters, punctuation marks, and mathematical signs. His whole system used only six dots and some small dashes. The group of dots for each sign was small enough to be felt all at once with one finger. Louis’ friends were very happy. Groups of students puckered as he wrote faster than they ever thought possible. His friend Pignier wanted to see the boy work. The other students picked up Louis’ system fast. There were very few problems with his system. Pignier had Captain Barbier’s rules changed to work with Louis’ alphabet. People could now do many new things.
They could take notes, write letters to each other, keep diaries, write stories, and copy anything they liked. It was a great new beginning for blind people. Louis kept on working with his “little system” as he liked to call it. He stayed in school and continued to be a very good student. In 1826, Louis began to teach algebra, grammar, and geography to the younger people at his school. He was seventeen years old and still a student himself. Louis decided he liked teaching and that this would be his profession in life. Louis loved music, he loved music so much he became the organist at everal churches in the city.
This gave him a chance to play the music he loved and to express his thick religious faith. In 1827, Louis wrote a grammar book using his system of righting. In 1829 he wrote another grammar book. In 1828, he found a way to copy and write music. By now, he no longer used dashes in his alphabet. They were too difficult to write well with a stylus. So he changed the way he copied music. In 1829, Louis published the first book about his system. It was called “Method of writing word, Music, and Plain Songs by Means of Dots, for use by the blind and Arranged for Them.
He would later go on to become an official teacher at the Royal Institution for Blind Children. Louis loved his job. He loved teaching the young children at the school. Louis still had many rules he must follow. But he got his own room and bed. He was great full because he could work and read with out being bothered. Over the years Louis’ countryside was getting worse and so was Louis’ health. Louis’ father had already died and only a few months after that the doctors found that Louis was bleeding internally. Louis was hart stricken. France was also getting worse.
Leaders were changing and people did not believe in anything anymore. All Louis needed was a little bit a fresh air. So Louis took a vacation. He stayed out of teaching for two years before he was able to come back to work. Only about a week after he was teaching he began to bleed. So the doctor sent him home once again. Many years past before he go back to school. When he was able to get back on his feet there was a new school in place. Many famous people visited the school. The new buildings were ready in 1843. The students moved to the new school with all their belongings. The new building was clean and airy.
By 1850, Louis was feeling very sick again. The school director let Louis stay at the school and teach a few piano lessons. By December 1851, Braille knew he was dying, so Louis put his will in order. He left many of his belongings to his friend Coltat, who gave them to the students who loved Braille. Louis gave the rest of his stuff to his mother. Louis Braille died on January 6, 1852. He had just turned forty-three. Louis was buried at Coupvray. His final ride home was the same road he had traveled to Paris with his father. In 1854, France adopted the Braille system as its official system for blind people.