The Story of Braille

The Story of Braille

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Peter White explores the history of Braille - from its revolutionary invention to its current decline in the face of modern digital technology.

Louis Braille - the founder of Braille - first devised this system of reading and writing for the blind in 1821, when he was just twelve years old.

Within a few years the first book in Braille was published, which was soon followed by a printing machine which speeded up the process of producing Braille.

Since then, Braille has been adapted into almost every known language. It's used on bank notes in Canada and Mexico and in published parliament acts in India.

It's been a revolution for the blind because it's such a direct, versatile and easy-to-learn system, but is it under threat today?

Amongst Britain's population of two million visually impaired it's estimated that, at most, only 20,000 use Braille.

Voice recognition systems, texts and other new technologies mean that many, especially the younger generation, are abandoning this system of writing. But can technology ever completely replace this very successful tool for communication?

First broadcast 2 January 2009

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