Louis Braille

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The picture (it could be a pastel drawing or a watercolor) shows a portrait of Louis Brailles against a blue-violet background.  He wears a dark robe with a stand-up collar, has brown, slightly wavy hair, a high forehead and strong cheekbones.  The deep-set eyes are almost completely closed.  Braille appears - almost monastic - withdrawn.
Louis Braille, detail of the miniature portrait of Lucienne Filippi, birthplace in Coupvraie
A yellowed postcard is printed with Braille and explanatory text in black letters.  Under the heading “HOW BRAILLE LOOKS LIKE” follow the 26 letters of the alphabet in Braille and underneath in black print and the words “BLUMENTAG HEILBRONN”.  In two other text panels there are explanations of Braille in very small black letters.  They end with the sentence "In Germany there are 35,000 blind people!"
Braille postcard to the Int. Blind day, 1915
The graphic shows the name “louis braille” in small letters in black and Braille.  The Braille characters are graphed with orange dots that appear to cast a slight shadow;  This makes them appear sublime, but of course they are not really.
Louis Braille in Braille
In a park, two benches in the background.  A Brailles bust made of snow-white marble stands on a base made of dark gray granite.  He wears a coat with a large collar, including a vest with a stand-up collar.  His wavy hair falls forward in strands, his deep-set eyes are almost completely closed.  He has strong cheekbones and narrow lips - this makes his features look a little hard.  On the pedestal in front of the bust, there are two black writing boards that are written on the top in normal white letters and below in Braille.  The upper one reads “Louis Braille - the inventor of Braille”, the lower one shows the alphabet in normal and braille.
Bust of Brailles on the lake promenade in Bad Wiessee
The horizontal format stamp shows the head of Braille in profile from the right side as a black and white bas-relief on the left half against a gray background.  The facial features are strongly modeled and appear very three-dimensional, the eyes are closed.  To the right of his forehead, roughly in the upper center of the stamp, the six Braille dots are arranged as white circular disks.  A rainbow seems to spring from them, leading first to the right and then in an arc to the lower right corner of the stamp.  At the top right in the free space above the rainbow, the letters “DDR” and the number “20” are in black, at the bottom of the stamp, under the gray main motif, “WELT-BRAILLE-YEAR 1975” is written in black and white.
World Braille Year
stamp of the GDR, 1975
Like all 2 euro coins, the coin is two-colored.  The approximately three millimeter wide rim is made of silver-colored metal with twelve embossed stars, the area in the middle is brass-colored.  It shows a portrait of Braille with closed eyes as a bas-relief.  Above in the arch is "LOUIS BRAILLE", underneath "1809 BE 2009".  To the left and right of the portrait are three or two braille dots in the form of small hemispheres, one above the other.
Belgian 2 euro commemorative coin commemorating the 200th birthday of Louis Braille, 2009

Louis Braille [ bʁaj ] (born January 4, 1809 in Coupvray , Île-de-France , † January 6, 1852 in Paris ) was a French teacher for the blind and inventor of the braille system named after him for the blind , Braille or Braille for short.

Live and act

Invention in childhood and adolescence

At the age of three, Braille injured his eye with an awl from his father's saddlery . The injured eye became infected and the second, previously intact eye also became ill. This sympathetic ophthalmia led to the total blindness of the five-year-old Louis. Since the inquisitive boy did not want to resign himself to being able to experience literature only by reading aloud, he thought about a writing for the blind.

Louis Braille invented his Braille not alone. He also built on the considerations of others. In Valentin Haüy's school for the blind , which he attended from 1819, he got to know a system that Haüy had got to know at a concert followed by a conversation with the blind composer, pianist and music teacher Maria Theresia Paradis during her three-year European tour with a stay in Paris. A type case had been developed for her with which she could set her correspondence and grades, teach blind and sighted children together and thus also provide for a living. Haüy was so fascinated by it that he also developed these devices for himself, with which movable letters and notes could be embossed in paper, making them palpable.

Louis Braille was made aware of this system as a pupil of Haüy's and he experimented in his father's shoemaker's workshop with making triangles, squares and circles out of pieces of leather, which were supposed to make writing even easier. But the result did not satisfy him. At the age of 11, Braille got to know the "night script" invented for military purposes by an artillery captain named Charles Barbier , which was a complicated system of dots and syllables. Braille simplified this script by replacing the syllables with letters and reducing the number of dots from twelve to six per character. With this binary 6- bit coding, 64 different characters could be represented (2 6 = 64), which - also because the difference between uppercase and lowercase letters - are not used at all. Although this set of characters would have been large enough, Braille introduced a special character for “switching to digits” (e.g. the top 4 dots count as “g” and after switching as “7”). In 1825, the only 16-year-old Louis Braille had completed his Braille.


Getting started: Braille literature

Although the characters were easy to learn and easy to write, they did not catch on for a long time. At the age of 27, Louis Braille transmitted a selection from the works of the blind English poet John Milton and tried to prove with a public lecture that he could write and read quickly. But his audience believed he had memorized the lyrics.

Louis Braille wrote to the French Minister of the Interior and received the bland reply: "This work seems to me to be excellent, and Mr Braille deserves to be encouraged." However, there was no official recognition. In addition to that, the new director of the school for the blind, the Braille banned. He believed that the blind would isolate themselves through scripture unknown to sighted people. In addition, the director had invented a handheld device with which the alphabet could be written. However, some students secretly continued to practice braille.

Development of a musical notation for the blind

1828 Louis Braille invented a based also on the six points of notation , first for the piano. He transferred entire organ scores into his new music script for the blind. It quickly caught on and is still the perfect way for blind people to read and write sheet music. In the meantime, this font has also been standardized internationally.

Braille also completed training as an organist , which he completed in 1833. He performed this activity on the organ of the Paris church of Saint Nicolas des Champs .

Development of raphigraphy

In 1839 Louis Braille published his raphigraphy to recreate the Latin letters with dots, on which he had worked for a long time. This script was intended for blind students who wanted to write to relatives or friends who could not read this braille. The upper and lower case letters and digits of the raphigraphy alphabet were up to ten points high and of different widths. With the onset of development of the mechanical typewriter , this font fell into oblivion again.

Braille's death and the international recognition of Braille

It was not until 1850 that Braille was officially taught in French schools for the blind. Braille did not experience the international breakthrough of his invention. He died of tuberculosis in Paris in 1852 . Braille was officially introduced in Germany in 1879.

100 years after his death, Braille's body was exhumed and transferred to the Panthéon in Paris . His hands, which were so central to the invention, remained in Braille's grave at home.


In 1999 the asteroid (9969) Braille was named after him.

On the occasion of the 200th birthday of Louis Braille, Belgium issued a 2 euro commemorative coin on September 25, 2009. Italy also issued a 2 euro commemorative coin on October 15, 2009 for this occasion. Another coin was issued in 2009 by the Republic of Palau (Pacific Islands) valued at 5 dollars. The special thing about this coin is the lettering "Louis Braille", which is neither in Braille nor in Latin letters, but in the 9-point script Fakoo, which was only invented in 2008 .

The DBSV holds every year with the Blista in Marburg , the Louis Braille Festival through.

The Austrian Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired is based in the Louis Braille House in Vienna , named after Louis Braille ; The Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Württemberg eV in the Louis Braille House in Stuttgart .


  • C. Michael Mellor: Louis Braille: le génie au bout des doigts. Ed. du Patrimoine, Paris 2008, ISBN 978-2-7577-0026-6 .
  • C. Michael Mellor: Louis Braille: Palpable Genialität , Louis Braille - a touch of genius, Braille publishing house Dr. "Pauline von Mallinckrodt", Paderborn 2009, ISBN 978-3-00-028144-0 .
  • Barbara I. Tshisuaka: Braille, Louis. In: Werner E. Gerabek , Bernhard D. Haage, Gundolf Keil , Wolfgang Wegner (eds.): Enzyklopädie Medizingeschichte. De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2005, ISBN 3-11-015714-4 , p. 203.

Web links

Commons : Louis Braille  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Cf. Marion Fürst: Maria Theresia Paradis. Mozart's famous blind contemporary. 2005, ISBN 3-412-19505-7 .
  2. a b Detlef Schneider: Louis Braille invented Braille . In: Chrismon . December 20, 2018 ( evangelisch.de [accessed June 16, 2019]).
  3. Minor Planet Circ. 35492
  4. 2009: 200th birthday of Louis Braille • Belgium. In: Zwei-euro.com. Accessed June 9, 2020 (German).
  5. 2009: 200th birthday of Louis Braille • Italy. In: Zwei-euro.com. Accessed June 9, 2020 (German).
  6. Braille coin with fakoo writing
  7. Home - German Association of the Blind and Visually Impaired. Accessed on June 9, 2020 .
  8. ^ Louis Braille House - Association of the Blind and Visually Impaired, Vienna, Lower Austria and Bgld. Retrieved February 8, 2018 .