"The War of the Dots"
A Brief History of Braille
Early attempts to find a usable system of reading and writing for blind children included a system of tying knots on a rope, writing on wax tablets, and the use of carved wooden Roman letters.
|1786||Valentin Hauy noticed that letters printed on wet paper were tactually legible on the reverse sides of the paper. He devised a system of writing slightly modified letters in reverse on the back of heavy paper, using a metal pen with a rounded tip.|
|1829||Louis Braille devised and published a code based on a series of embossed dots. The code was based on a raised dot code invented in 1821 by Charles Barbier, an Army artillery officer, who created it because he needed a way to read by touch during night maneuvers. Other systems were simultaneously being developed, and this became known as "The War of the Dots," which lasted in the United States of America and Great Britain for almost 80 years.|
|1853||Samuel Howe developed Boston Line Type, an embossed angular modification of Roman letters. Books at the Perkins School used this system for 50 years. Howe remained opposed to the Braille code all his life.|
|1860||William Wait, Principal of the New York Institute for the Education of the Blind, tried to get schools in Boston and Philadelphia to join him in accepting Braille's code. They refused, so he developed his own system--New York Point, which resembles Braille characters turned on their side.|
|1871||New York Point was endorsed and recommended by an association of teachers of the blind, mostly sighted people, for use in the education of blind children.|
|1900||By this time Boston Line Type started to fade as American schools were using either New York Point or Braille's code. Joel Smith developed yet another method, known as American Braille.|
|1909||Helen Keller advocated for the adoption of Braille, distraught by the fact that she had to learn four different embossed codes to have access to printed material, since there was no uniformity in its production.|
|1932||Standard English Braille was adopted by the United States of America and Great Britain as the uniform method of reproducing printed material--a century after Louis Braille presented his code.|
Reprinted with permission from "A Teacher's Guide." Braille Is Beautiful: A Braille Promotion Project of the National Federation of the Blind. 2002: 48.