Once upon a time, blind people could not read. This was OK, since pretty much no one else could read either (hence the beautiful stained glass in the churches, but that’s a different story). Even Mrs. Joe Neanderthal couldn’t read. But since there was next to nothing to read, none of this really mattered.
Then books were invented and not being able to read became a burden for the blind. Mostly the Unenlightened World (and by “unenlightened world” I mean everyone who wasn’t blind) ignored the problem. Enter Louis Braille stage left.
Louis was blinded as a child as a result of an accident (don’t ask, it’s not a pretty story). Interestingly, his parents continued to educate him and make sure he was part of the family and community. He was extremely bright and eventually was sent to a school for the blind.
The system used there to teach blind students to read was beyond cumbersome, and Braille invented Braille which was a much better option. Because it was better, seeing people hated it and refused to use it for a long time. Blind people thought it was terrific, staged a sit in, and eventually Braille became the standard.
This is National Braille Literacy Month in honor of Louis Braille who was born in January.
Interestingly, use of Braille is on the decline, primarily because text-to-speech technology has improved so much over recent years. However, over 150 million people around the world use Braille, so devoting a month to awareness is not at all unreasonable.
Also, tomorrow is National Chocolate Cake Day.
Try not to get the cake and Braille confused.
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