- Post date:
- Tuesday, 24 July 2018
RNIB has a long history with braille. One of the main aims of Thomas Armitage, our founder, was to improve literature for blind and partially sighted people.
Two years after RNIB was founded, braille was adopted as the main embossed type standard for people with sight loss and we published the UK’s first key to the braille alphabet. A key to braille music notation was also published, 60 years before the official code for braille music was developed. Our first braille magazine, Progress, began publishing in April 1871, and is still being printed today. We developed our first Arabic braille code in 1889, and in 1893 released the first dictionary of braille contractions. We even worked with publishers of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, ensuring a braille edition was published the same time as the standard print version.
Our Transcription Services can convert print into a preferred format, find out more about the service.
Did you know...
- Captain Charles Babier de La invented a system to enable Officers of Napoleon’s Grande Armée to write or read (feel) coded messages in the dark using a pen-knife to carve a simplified script. The system was called Night Writing. Apparently, the rough handed soldiers found it too hard to read the impressions with their fingertips.
- In 1819 Barbier put on an exhibit in Paris of the embossed writing and reading techniques he’d invented. It was at this time that he thought that the system would be useful to blind people.
- By 1821 Barbier devised a new system suitable for blind people. He presented it to the Headmaster of the Institut Royale des Jeunes Aveugles in Paris. This system was adopted by the Institution and won over the enthusiasm of the pupils, particularly Louis Braille, who was then aged 12.
- The first mass-production braillewriter became available in 1892, the Frank Hall braillewriter. It was like a typewriter with six keys, one for each of the dots in a braille cell. These machines could produce braille characters when keys were pressed in various combinations.
- The Braille Centenary Exhibition, at the National Institute for the Blind (RNIB’s former headquarters in Great Portland Street), was opened on June 11th by HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh:
During the event, Prince Philip welcomed guests, “Louis Braille, whose memory we honour to-day, was a Frenchman, and the fact that we in England were amongst the first to teach and print braille has resulted in a close bond between our two countries. I also welcome our overseas guests from the United States of America and Australia.”
- In 1906 the Daily Mail produced the first braille edition of a newspaper.
Read our past, present and future article to find out more about braille.
Have our stories inspired you to share yours? You can get involved in our 150 celebrations too:
Join our celebrations on social media by using the hashtag #RNIB150.