Geek Trivia

Braille, The Tactile Writing System For The Blind, Is Derived From What?

Night Writing Sonography
Sign Language
Morse Code
Which Sea Creatures Originally Lived On Land?

Answer: Night Writing Sonography

In the early 19th century French military and political leader Napoleon Bonaparte was searching for a communication method that would allow soldiers to read encoded messages in complete darkness. He enlisted the aid of a French military Captain named Charles Barbier to help bring his plan of covert reading to fruition.

The result of Barbier’s work on the project was night writing sonography. The heart of the night writing system was a series of dots arranged in sets of two columns and six rows. The combinations of raised dots and empty space in each set of corresponded to various letters and phonetic constructions from the French alphabet.

The system was ultimately rejected because Barbier was unable to train a significant number of soldiers to use it effectively. Despite its failure as a military communication tool, Barbier didn’t give up on the system. In 1821 he visited the National Institute for the Blind in Paris, France to see if his sightless reading system would prove useful to the blind.

There he met Louis Braille who identified the biggest problem with Barbier’s system–the 12-dot system was too big for the finger tip and it was impossible for a reader to move their finger quickly from one symbol to the next. Braille refined the code into a six-dot system that enabled readers to rapidly move their finger across the message, facilitating a more fluid and natural decoding of the text. The refined code bore his name and revolutionized written communication for visually impaired people the world over.