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Directions: Read the article and answer the questions that follow.          

1 Do you remember how hard it was to learn to read? Imagine how difficult it would be if you had to read by feeling words with your fingertips. Long ago that was the only alternative for blind students.

2 Louis Braille was a child who struggled to learn because he was blind. Although he could see when he was born in 1809 near Paris, France, he injured one of his eyes when he was three years old. An infection spread to both eyes leaving Braille completely blind. Still, he was luckier than most blind children of his time. Few blind children were ever educated, and they seldom grew up to be more than street beggars. Braille’s family, however, believed that he could learn despite his blindness.

3 At first Braille went to public school with his older sisters and his brother. He faithfully listened to his teacher. Then his sister would read his homework assignments to him. Braille proved that a blind child could learn. He was soon at the top of his class.

4 Despite his intelligence, the public school had no method to teach Braille to read or write. His teachers soon felt that he could learn no more from them until he had these skills. So, at age nine, Braille went to the Institution Royale des Jeunes Aveugles, a private school for the blind located in Paris. His wish to learn to read on his own was finally granted.

5 Even though he was eager, Braille found the reading system for the blind a real challenge. At the time, books for the blind were made by forming the letters of the alphabet from copper wire. These letters were pressed into the paper, leaving a raised impression of the letter on the paper’s other side. The blind student could then read by feeling the raised letters. But even though they were raised, discriminating between the letters was difficult and time-consuming. Also, very few raised-print books were available because they were difficult and slow to make.

6 Braille wanted to improve the reading system for the blind. His idea came from a totally unexpected source. When he was twelve years old, a French army officer visited his school. The officer had developed a code that allowed soldiers to read and write at night without using a light. The code was made up of raised dots and dashes combined in different ways to represent different sounds. The soldiers could read the message in the dark by feeling the dots and dashes with their fingertips.

7 Immediately, Braille realized that blind people could use a similar system. Although the French officer’s method was too difficult to comprehend, Braille was sure he could work out a simpler version that blind people could figure out.

8 Discovering a system that worked was an uphill climb. Braille spent the next few years testing arrangements of raised dots. He worked only with dots since he had quickly decided that dashes took up too much space. Finally, he was satisfied with a system based on six dots in two columns of three dots each. Different patterns of dots within the columns would stand for different letters.

9 Braille was fifteen years old when he first shared his new system with other blind students. They quickly realized its benefits. Not only did it make reading faster and easier, it also gave the blind students a way to write. The student used a blunt, pointed instrument called a stylus to create the raised dot patterns on paper.

10 Louis Braille was eighteen years old when the first Braille book was published. Many more books originated from his system. In addition, he developed dot systems to represent numbers and music notes. Today blind people around the world can read and write thanks to young Louis Braille’s dot language.