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How do the blind read and write?

‘Braille’ is a system of lettering used by the blind all over the world for reading and writing. It was developed by Louis Braille of the National Institute for Blind Children in Paris. Louis Braille was blinded in an accident at the age of three. While he was cutting leather in his father’s shop, the knife slipped and fell on to his eyes, blinding him for life. In 1819, he went to the National Institute and became a teacher there in 1828. Between the years 1829 and 1837 he was able to publish the expositions of his new system. This system has a six-dot cell (see figure). The dots are numbered as 1, 2, and 3, downwards on the left and 4, 5, 6, downwards on the right. The first ten letters of the alphabet are formed with dots 1, 2, 4, and 5. Adding dot 3 to the signs in column 1 forms the letters from K to T. Five of the remaining letters of the alphabet and five very common words are formed by adding dot 6 to the signs in column 2. When dot 6 is added to the first ten letters, nine common letter combinations are formed. Various other things are also exhibited by the system. The Braille system consists of a code of 63 characters. These characters include 26 letters of the English alphabet and some other words and numbers. These characters are embossed in lines on paper and read by passing the fingers lightly over the manuscript. The Braille system was officially adopted in 1854, two years after the death of its inventor. Nowadays, machines can also produce the Braille script. This machine, which looks like an electric typewriter, was developed in 1892, in the USA. The machine punched the dots for each letter into the paper as the words are written. The Braille system of reading and writing has proved a great boon for the blind.

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