A celebration of the life of Louis Braille – the inventor of the raised-dot system used by blind readers – and the Talking Book Service (TBS) which provides audiobooks and special players to those with visual and physical challenges will be part of an open house at the library.
“Say Yes to TBS” will be Thursday, Jan. 11, 2-6 p.m., in the Community Room.
The event will include displays of TBS materials and a reading of “Six Dots,” the story of the young Braille. Local agencies serving people with vision loss and other issues have been asked to come with information about their services. Refreshments will be served.
TBS is administered by the Idaho Commission for Libraries and is supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The free service is available to any Idaho resident unable to read standard print dues to any permanent or temporary physical disability, including vision impairment or because the individual is unable to hold a book or turn the pages.
TBS users are provided a free playback device, books and magazines, and postage to return items. Materials are delivered directly to the user’s home. Braille materials can also be provided, as well, as downloadable audiobooks. There are currently more than 75,000 items available in English, Spanish, and other languages.
Additional information is available by contacting Outreach Coordinator Barbara Brambila-Smith, at 208-769-2316 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
. TBS can be contacted directly at 800-458-3271.
Louis Braille was born in 1809. He lost his sight at 3 years old when he was using an awl in his father’s harness shop and it slipped and injured his eye. Infection developed and spread and he lost the sight in both eyes. At age 10, he began attending the Royal Institution for Blind Youth. He learned to read using its library of huge books that had large raised letters, a process the impatient young man found very cumbersome.
Then in 1821, a former soldier named Charles Barbier visited the school. Barbier shared his invention called “night writing,” a code of 12 raised dots that let soldiers share top-secret information on the battlefield without even having to speak. Unfortunately, the code was too hard for the soldiers, but not for 12-year-old Louis.
Braille trimmed Barbier's 12 dots to six, ironed out the system by the time he was 15, then published the first-ever braille book in 1829. In 1837, he added symbols for math and music. But since the public was skeptical, blind students had to study braille on their own.
Even at the Royal Institution, where Louis taught after he graduated, braille wasn't taught until after his death in 1852.
Braille began to spread worldwide in 1868, when a group of British men, now known as the Royal National Institute for the Blind, took up the cause.