Louis Braille The French Inventor That Changed Blind People’s Life

Louis Braille Birth Place Coupvray France
Louis Braille Birth Place Coupvray France
Louis Braille Birth Place

I  am proud to introduce you to a very special blogger and writer who was introduced to me by my friend Maxwell Ivey, also known as the “blind blogger.”

Her name is Kerry Kijewski, and just like Max, she’s also a “blind” writer.  

So needless to say that this specific article she wrote for my blog today, makes all the more sense.  And who better than someone like her could have written it?  

So, without further ado, let me leave now and let Kerry take over…


It is my desire to travel to France, but not for one of the usual travel destinations.

Sure, I would love to visit Paris to see the Eiffel Tower. I would love to experience The City of Lights, The City of Love, but there is a town outside of the capital city that I hope to visit.

This town I’m talking about is Coupvray.  It is located 20 miles east of Paris. It is famously known to be the birthplace of Louis Braille.

Why my Interest in Louis Braille?

Louis Braille birth place

I was born visually impaired, so as soon as I was old enough, I didn’t just learn how to read and write, large print. I learned braille.

Braille is a series of six dots, used in different combinations, to form words that are raised and can be felt by the fingers of people unable to read print.

Braille is not another language. It allows the blind to read just like anyone else. Literacy is extremely important to me, and I have always loved the feeling of those bumps underneath my fingertips.

I think in braille dots. I picture words, not always in the print form that I once had enough vision to see, but now in the dots that were invented by a young French man in the early to mid-1800s.

Louis Braille was born with Perfect Sight

Louis was born normal sight, in the village of Coupvray, France in 1809. Nobody could have predicted what he would eventually become renowned for.

His father made horse bridals and leather harnesses, and young Louis liked to play in his father’s shop.

One day, when he was only 3 years old, he got a hold of a sharp tool called an awl and punctured his eye with it. Infection quickly set in, spread, and he was soon totally blind in both eyes.

If such events had happened today, Louis would have never had lost his sight, but in the early 1800’s what resulted of this terrible accident was pretty much inevitable.

I can’t imagine what this would have been like, the pain and the fear Louis must have endured at such an early age, as well as the terror his parents must have felt for their son.

Starting Life has a Blind Young Man

Blindness wasn’t received so well in the early 1800s and all the hope Louis Braille’s parents must have had for their child must have vanished in that one terrible moment.

However, Louis Braille eventually attended school and listened well enough to keep up, until earning a scholarship to the Royal Institution for Blind Youth in Paris.

At this time, books for the blind were expensive and the letters were embossed and made of thin, shaved wire, but they took up a lot of space and were difficult to produce. It wasn’t going to be a practical way for the blind to read.

In 1821 an army captain visited Louis’s school and brought with him a possible way of communication for the blind, a system called Night Writing, a way for soldiers to communicate in the dark and in secret. This system was rejected, but Louis Braille took it and built on it and (in 1829), he would invent the system of six braille dots that would bring words to those who could not see them.

Braille Changed the Lives of Blind People and Mine

“Access to communication in the widest sense is access to knowledge and that is vitally important for us if we (the blind) are not to go on being despised or patronized by condescending sighted people. We do not need pity, nor do we need to be reminded we are vulnerable. We must be treated as equals and communication is the way this can be brought about.”

–Louis Braille (1809-1852)

Louis Braille is no longer here and so it is impossible for me to sincerely, from the bottom of my heart, thank him for all he has given to me.

The only way I can think of to show my appreciation, to pay homage to this man, and the gift of literacy he has given to me and so many others, is for me to stand where he may have stood as a newly blind child.

He must have been afraid to go on and function without his sight, but he persevered, at a difficult period in history for the blind, and he made a difference.

Who knows, I may also make it to Paris to see the lights, the tower, and the place where Louis Braille is now at rest.  In 1952, 100 years after Braille’s death, the French government transferred his body to the Pantheon, In Paris to be placed along other national heroes, except for his hands which stayed buried in Coupvray in honor of his native village.

My aim for my life is not to simply exist, but to go out and fully experience it, to touch and smell and feel the things that pictures will never ever be able to convey.

I want to tread the steps where one of my heroes might very well have trodden, where he may have ventured out and taken his first uncertain steps as a blind man.

I want to wander and learn, to gain insights into the things that truly matter to me, and Coupvray, France is at the top of this list. This is a dream I really want to make true.

Your turn now, please, let me know what you think, and ask me questions if you wish.


Photo by Kou07dou via Wikimedia

16 thoughts on “Louis Braille The French Inventor That Changed Blind People’s Life”

  1. Kerry, it was a pleasure to have you as my first guest on my new redesigned blog.

    I think that no one better than someone who is visually impaired could have written about this incredible man who lost his sight long ago, and turned out to be a Godsend individual for blind people generations, and generations after him.

    I think your post is very touching, and I’m sure some people will be touched by it.

    so, again, thank you so much for being my guest today.

  2. Hello Sylviane and Kerry; Sylviane, thanks for deciding to give my friend kerry space to share her gifts as a writer. She is very talented and I have no doubt that she will achieve her dreams and so much more. and to kerry i am so proud of you my friend. I know this is just the beginning for you. This post could easily be read by people who want to support and encourage you on your journey. and i want to say something to the sighted people who are reading this. There aren’t huge numbers of us blind bloggers out here, but I am definitely not the only one. Please support Kerry and others like her with big dreams. I’d like to someday soon have to change my blog name to reflect the growing community of visually impaired bloggers. even better would be for there to be enough of us who are well enough known that it wouldn’t be a surprise to most people that there are blind bloggers at all. hoping people start to see us as bloggers who happen to be blind. But today is kerry’s day. so please share this post. Salud my friend, Max
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    1. Hi Max,

      I have no doubt that most people would see you like that, Max, bloggers, that just happen to be blind, like we know there are bloggers with other handicaps, such as my friend Barry Wells, as well as well known blogger Jon Morrow. There is no difference as for your qualities, skills and talents.

      I know Kerry was trying to comment earlier, but she said she couldn’t because she got a message telling her that she needs an avatar. I told her to use the email for which she does have an avatar, or create one at Gravatar, but she might be confused, I’m not sure. So if you could see if she needs help that be great.

      I’m glad you came here encourage her. It was very nice to have her here.

    1. Hi Sue,

      Until Kerry managed to get here, I guess I’ll welcome the comments she received for her.

      I’m glad you learned an important part of Braille history here. I am sure that many people outside of France have no idea why Braille is even called like that. Of course, there’s Wikipedia, but hard to look for something you’re not even looking for, right? That’s why blog posts are for and that’s why they’re great!

      Thanks for coming by 🙂

  3. Sylviane, it’s great to see a post about the blind. I know both Max and Kerry. In fact, I’ve recently completed a lengthy interview with Kerry (I had interviewed Max earlier this year), and it will be posted on Wording Well on Monday, December 15, 2014.

    Because it is Sunday right now, I’m going to add a link to this post from mine.

    What a cool find this post was today! I was on JustRetweet when I saw the promotion for it. 🙂

    Funny how fate works sometimes, right?

    Kerry, I am so proud of you! This is a wonderful post!

    1. Hi Lorraine,

      How nice to see you here and how interesting that you are going to link to this post tomorrow, because if you look, you’ll see a ping-back from my blog as well 🙂 I won’t tell you more because it’s tomorrow surprise post for 42 bloggers 🙂

      I will have to check Max’s interview as well.

      I’m glad you came visit Kerry’s guest post. It was a pleasure to have her here.

      Thanks for coming.

  4. Glad you found it Lorraine and pleased you liked it. 🙂 I appreciate the support of the both of you. Means a lot. Have a great week.

  5. This blog has attracted me the most. I am visiting this website for the first time. And as I read the blog I was really amazed by it. We are proud of you Kerry. This is an extremely wonderful post.

  6. Thank you so very much for reading. I really enjoyed sharing my dream of visiting the birthplace of one of my heroes with Sylviane and all her readers. Glad you liked it.

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