Louis Braille (1809 – 1852) was the inventor of braille, a world-wide system used by blind and visually impaired people for reading and writing. Braille is read by passing the fingers over characters made up of an arrangement of one to six embossed points. It has been adapted to almost every known language.
Louis Braille became blind at the age of 3, when he accidentally stabbed himself in the eye with an awl, one of his father's workshop tools. Braille's other eye went blind because of sympathetic ophthalmia.
At the very young age of 10, Braille earned a scholarship to the Royal Institution for Blind Youth in Paris, one of the first of its kind in the world. At the school, the children were taught basic craftsman skills and simple trades. They were also taught how to read by feeling raised letters (Valentin Haüy system). However, because the raised letters were made using paper pressed against copper wire, the students never learned to write. Another disadvantage was that the letters weighed a lot and whenever people published books using this system, they put together a book with multiple stories in one in order to save money. This made the books sometimes weigh over a hundred pounds.
In 1821, Charles Barbier, a Captain in the French Army, visited the school. Barbier shared his invention called "Night writing" a code of 12 raised dots and a number of dashes that let soldiers share top-secret information on the battlefield without having to speak. The code was too difficult for Louis to understand and he later changed the number of raised dots to 6 to form what we today call Braille.