Braille Writing

It is commonly known that in 1824 a Frenchman by the name of Louis Braille invented a system of writing for the blind in which he used a pattern of ‘6 dots’. It was initially called the ‘cell’ system for the blind. His system of writing became very popular and just two years after his death was widely used all over France. The Braille Alphabet consists of 63 characters made up of a series of six dots raised on paper so that they can be read by passing fingers lightly over the manuscript. A universal Braille code for the English speaking world was adopted in London in 1932.

It is interesting to note that 600 years before Braille Ali Ibn Ahmed Al Amidi, a Syrian Muslim, who died in 1314 CE was an expert in reading such a system. He was blind from childhood. His system allowed him not only to locate books on shelves by the sense of touch but also enabled him to determine the number of pages of the book. He was also able to ascertain the value of the books by t he spacing of the lines. Whenever he went to buy a book he would roll a piece of paper into the shape of a letter of the alphabet which he would then stick onto the cover of the book. The letter used would be part of a code that he had adopted to categorise the books. At a later date by simply touching the letter he was able to identify which book it was, its title, price, number of pages etc.

This in fact was the beginning of ‘Braille’ writing for the blind which Al Amidi invented almost 600 years before the birth of Louis Braille.