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January 6th 1852: Louis Braille dies

On this day in 1852, the French educator Louis Braille died in Paris aged 43. Braille is best known for inventing the system of reading and writing used by blind people. He was born in a small French town in January 1809 and was blinded aged three, in an accident with an awl he found in his father’s workshop. The boy lost the sight in both eyes due to the accident, but refused to give up on his education. He struggled at school, as even at the Royal Institution for Blind Youth in Paris - where he began attending when he was ten - the teachers just talked at the students. Braille found the school’s fourteen raised-letter books entirely inadequate and was desperate to find a better way to read. When Braille was twelve, a former soldier called Charles Barbier visited the school and demonstrated his ‘night writing’ code of raised dots and dashes for soldiers to communicate. The exceptionally gifted young Braille then modified Barbier’s system, using just six dots rather than twelve to make it quicker and easier to read. Poignantly, Braille created his own raised dot system using an awl, the same instrument that had blinded him. In 1829, when he was twenty, he published the first ever braille book. Braille continued to modify and improve the system, but unfortunately its brilliance was not recognised until after his death in 1852. It was in 1868, when the forerunners of the British Royal National Institute for the Blind took up the cause, that the system began to be taught and spread worldwide. Louis Braille’s invention is now used all around the world and has provided blind people everywhere with a tool to read books and public signs and to communicate independently.

“We do not need pity, nor do we need to be reminded we are vulnerable. We must be treated as equals – and communication is the way this can be brought about”
- Louis Braille

Braille is not a language

Braille is not a language. Braille is a system for making printed words accessible to blind people.

All braille looks the same visually. There is no bold or italic in braille, and there are no fonts or scripts.  Braille is always read left-to-right, even in languages that are printed right to left. Languages that are printed in different alphabets still look the same in Braille.

For example, even though Hebrew and English look dramatically different in print, they look the same in Braille. This can sometimes mislead sighted people into thinking that Braille is its own language, but it is not.

The only major difference between Braille and print is that Braille uses raised dots instead of visually distinct letters. (A minor difference: Braille uses a lot of contractions to make it less verbose.) 

Braille is not translation, and putting something into Braille does not change the meaning.

If an English book is brailled, it’s still in English, and it still has all of the same words. It hasn’t changed languages; it’s just been encoded in a way that makes it possible to read by feeling rather than seeing.

tl;dr Braille is not a language, and brailling books doesn’t change the meaning, Braille just makes it possible to read with your hands.

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Teen Starts Company To Make Low-Cost Printers To Help Blind People

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — In Silicon Valley, it’s never too early to become an entrepreneur. Just ask 13-year-old Shubham Banerjee. The California eighth-grader has launched a company to develop low-cost machines to print Braille, the tactile writing system for the visually impaired. Tech giant Intel Corp. recently invested in his startup, Braigo Labs.

For behind this incredible technology go here. 

Chex cereal is just a sad, bland, unwanted version of Life cereal that only tastes good when you throw it in a bowl with a bunch of better-tasting foods and then bury the whole thing under a solid 3 inches of salt and/or sugar. Its devastatingly boring existence is an apt metaphor for the people that propelled the food to the center of their eugenics-crazed, cult-like utopia.

Albert Webster Edgerly, aka Webster Edgerly, aka Edward Shaftesbury, aka Dr. Everett Ralston (with “Ralston” being an acronym for “regime, activity, light, strength, temperation, oxygen, nature”), aka Pick A Goddamn Pseudonym Already, wrote 82 sprawling manifestos disguised as health guides touting the importance of clean living, eugenics, and the separation of the races. The predecessor to Chex was pushed into the market by Edgerly himself – hence its somewhat less-catchy original name, Shredded Ralston.

The cereal was meant to be a major part of a healthy, bacteria-free diet that would be practiced by Edgerly and those who bought into his racist rhetoric. Dr. McCrazyPants even went as far as inventing his own bullshit language, which was so far up its own ass that it insisted on being referred to as “perfect” and free from pronunciation “uncertainty” and … just … fuck this guy. It’s all so goddamn pretentious, it makes Gwyneth Paltrow look like a semi-drunk Jennifer Lawrence. This is a guy who once made the stone-faced claimthat “watermelons are poisonous to most Caucasians.” Incidentally, Edgerly also wrote a legendarily terrible book on acting, and we reserve the right to devote an entire article to it in the future.

7 Things You Have In Your Home With Insane Secret Histories

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Watch: Stevie Wonder takes an awesome stand for accessibility at the Grammys

The GIFs show Stevie Wonder presenting an award with three captions:

Y’all can’t read this, huh? 

You can’t read it! You can’t read braille! Na na na na!

Wee need to make every single thing accessible to every single person with a disability.

(Thanks to @leatherjacketsknitsweaters)