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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

AFB Celebrates 200 Years of Louis Braille

New York, NY (December 18, 2008)—On January 4, 2009, the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) will join organizations across the globe in celebrating the 200th anniversary of Louis Braille's birth. Braille was the Frenchman who invented the raised dot code that bears his name. He made it possible for blind and visually impaired people to read and write the same books and correspondence as their sighted counterparts.

As a student at the Institution for the Blind, Braille was dissatisfied with the system used to promote literacy for students with visual impairments, which was bulky, costly, and difficult to read (a system of raised-line print letters). At 15, Braille created his own, more efficient, system consisting of six dots in a small cell that can be read with one's finger tip. Today, Louis Braille's code is used in practically every country around the world.

To commemorate the Louis Braille Bicentennial, AFB is creating an online gallery that will include pictures of Louis Braille, digitized books, articles, and more. AFB will also be creating a calendar of commemorative events worldwide, and will showcase one of the first books printed in braille—embossed in Paris in 1837, and one of only three copies in the world. Visitors to the gallery can also access digitized copies of "The War of the Dots," a chapter from Robert Irwin's As I Saw It; Louis Braille's New Writing Process for the Blind, in French and English; and The Reading Fingers by Jean Roblin. Celebratory activities will continue throughout the year on the AFB web site at www.afb.org.

For children, teachers, and parents, new games and activities will be available on AFB's Braille Bug web site for kids, where visitors can learn more about the braille code, print an alphabet key, join a reading club, and write their names in braille.

"AFB is a huge proponent of braille literacy and we are forever thankful to Louis Braille for his life-changing gift to all of us," said Carl R. Augusto, AFB's President & CEO. "We look forward to participating in the global celebration of his birth."

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The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) is a national nonprofit that expands possibilities for people with vision loss. AFB's priorities include broadening access to technology; elevating the quality of information and tools for the professionals who serve people with vision loss; and promoting independent and healthy living for people with vision loss by providing them and their families with relevant and timely resources. AFB is also proud to house the Helen Keller Archives and honor the over forty years that Helen Keller worked tirelessly with AFB. For more information visit us online at www.afb.org.

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