A young boy called Louis invented braille over 200 years ago in France.
Aged 10, Louis lost his sight, and was sent to the Royal Institution for Blind Youth. It was at the Institute in 1821 that Louis was first introduced to the idea of using a coded system of raised dots: the first step towards braille. Read our information on the invention of braille.
When Louis Braille died in 1852 he must have wondered whether his reading and writing system would die with him. It certainly didn't!
Louis Braille's system of embossed type is now used by blind and partially sighted people for reading and writing all over the world. It has been adapted to almost every known language, from Albanian to Zulu. Over the years RNIB has continued to fight for braille and the rights of blind and partially sighted people to have access to information and the opportunity to express themselves in written word. Since our first braille book was published in 1871 our library now shares over 25,000 braille books and music scores with our members every year. We are the largest publisher of braille in Europe.
Braille is used in everyday life by many blind and partially sighted people. Find out more on modern day braille.
Today RNIB strives to keep braille alive in a number of ways:
We put millions of pounds into subsidising the production of braille books every year
We offer hundreds of different books and products for sale to help people read and write braille using new technologies, see our Products and publications in braille page
Our training courses help people to learn braille
Our transcription service helps people and companies turn information into braille
We campaign for better access to information in different formats including braille
We work with organisations all over the world to ensure people are trained in braille and technology continues to develop and become more accessible to people.
Two centuries after braille was invented, it's still going strong. But the world changes and new technology develops. It will be interesting to see, and even to shape, what the future of braille will be like.