A New Method: The Story of Louis Braille

Chapter 7. Louis Braille – Epilogue

When Louis Braille died in 1852, his raised dot alphabet had been the official method of reading and writing at the Royal Institute for Blind Youth for eight years. Few people outside of the Institute knew of the braille system.

In 1854 France officially recognized braille as the approved method of reading and writing for blind people. Joseph Guadet promoted its use by distributing examples of braille in English, French, Italian, German, Latin, and Spanish.

One after another, countries around the world recognized the benefits of braille. A world congress met in Paris in 1878 and selected braille as the appropriate system of reading and writing for the blind. In 1890, braille was adopted in schools for the blind in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, England, Germany, Spain, and Scotland. In 1917, the United States recommended that braille be used in its schools, and in 1949, under the leadership of the United Nations, work began on adapting braille to more than two hundred languages and dialects throughout the world. Braille had become a universal language.

One hundred years after Louis Braille’s death, his body was moved from Coupvray to the Panthéon in Paris to lie with other great men and women of France. People came from all over the world to participate in the ceremonies.

The stone house in Coupvray where Louis Braille was born and grew up is now a museum. The street on which it stands is named Louis Braille Street. Visitors to the museum can view documents and mementoes relating to the life and work of Mr. Braille. On the wall of the house is a plaque which reads:

Dans cette maison
est né
le 4 Janvier 1809
Inventeur de l’ecriture
en points sailiants
pour les aveugles.
Il a ouvert
a tous ceux qui ne voient pas
les portes du savoir.
In this house
on January 4, 1809
was born
The inventor of the system of
writing in raised dots for use
by the blind.
He opened the doors of
knowledge to all those
who cannot see.

Originally published as the book A New Method: The Story of Louis Braille, by Carolyn Meyer, © 1995.