Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

A Hero’s Legacy Lives On

by Daniel Parker, RDPFS Intern

Today, January 6th, marks the anniversary of the death of Louis Braille in 1852. His birthday, January 4th, is rightly celebrated the world over by people with vision loss and advocacy organizations. The fact that these dates are so close together makes the designation of January as Braille literacy month even more significant. For people wishing to honor Braille and his impact by delving deeper into his life and work, one way, for those who have the means, is to visit the Louis Braille Museum in Coupvray, France. An organization called Friends of Louis Braille bought the inventor’s birthplace in 1952. That 100th anniversary of Louis Braille’s death is the same year that his body was exhumed and paraded to the Paris Panthéon, with many notable people in attendance, including Helen Keller. The house opened to the public as a museum the following year and was inaugurated officially in 1954. Aside from the house itself, the museum also includes an exhibit known as the “Garden of the Five Senses.” Financed by the Givaudan Foundation and the town of Coupvray, and designed by landscape architect Thierry Rousset, the garden “invites visitors to explore all the senses, smell, taste, touch, sight, and hearing, with more than 500 different plant varieties that can be smelled, eaten, touched, heard, and looked at(.)” There is a virtual tour of the garden and house on the museum’s website. You can find out much more information online about the Louis Braille Museum. And in the meantime, don’t forget to check out this electronic edition of the first publication of the Braille code, available both in the original French and an English translation, prepared by staff at the Jacobus tenBroek Library at the National Federation of the Blind (NFB). A rare physical copy of this book, one of six in the world, is displayed at the museum of the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) in Louisville, Kentucky, according to this 2015 APH press release about the book.