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Slideshare uses cookies to improve functionality and performance, and to provide you with relevant advertising. As I studied the online Touching the Book exhibition, I was struck by how many of the books were printed in roman embossed types, even those published many decades after the invention of braille.
In part, the tenacity of the embossed roman alphabets might be explained by the investment that was poured into them. Sighted teachers sometimes claimed that they resisted arbitrary code systems like braille or New York Point because they “constituted an additional barrier between blind and sighted people.”[5] Writing about embossed roman alphabet systems in his essay, “War of the Dots,” Robert B.
Braille came to the United States in 1860, when the Missouri School for the Blind introduced it into its curriculum.
Although no other school officially adopted braille for decades, and the American Printing House did not produce braille materials until 1893,[9] the system was embraced by pupils at the schools for the blind. In the mid-1870s, a team of teachers and graduates at Perkins School for The Blind compared all the embossed and point writing systems, determined to identify the best. Unable to leave well enough alone, Anagnos charged a brilliant and inventive teacher to improve upon the original code. In spite of the preference of readers for the clearly superior braille point system, Perkins incomprehensibly continued to publish its books in embossed alphabets for over 30 years more.
This information on the complex history of the writing systems in the USA is very valuable.
I notice the coincidence between the selection of Standart braille as the official writing in 1918 and the entry of the USA into First World War in 1917. The blind did not wait until the XXth century to use a stick or to appreciate the company of a dog. But, after the two world wars, there were so much blind veterans that their rehabilitation became a social responsibility, assumed by the governments or, if not, by private associations.
Michael Anagnos was director of Perkins School for the Blind in Massachusetts, and one of the sighted educators who advocated for embossed alphabet writing systems.
The American Printing House for the Blind was established in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1858 by private backers who were committed to producing tactile books for readers who were blind. William Bell Wait, head of the New York Institution for the Blind, developed New York Point in 1871, and promoted it among educators prodigiously.
Compelled to read embossed alphabets or New York Point for study, the students were free to use braille for personal correspondence and notetaking (except at the Illinois school, which confiscated braille slates).[10] If their school would not teach them braille, the students apparently taught one another.


The American Printing House for the Blind only ceased publishing in New York Point in the 1920s, when schools for the blind stopped teaching it. This success is attributable to its loyal users, who would not give braille up, even when attempts were made to supplant it or even to suppress it.
This suggests that the attachment to nonbraille writing systems was driven mainly by the preferences and convenience of the educators.
All the warring countries had to cope with rehabilitating the disabled veterans, many of whom were blind. For example, Jacob Birrer, in his book published in 1843 in Zurich, Souvenirs curieux et vie remarquable de l’aveugle Jacob Birrer de Luthern, canton de Lucerne, prive de la vue a l’age de quatre ans, a la suite de la petite verole ( Curious memories and remarkable life of the blind man Jacob Birrer de Luthern, canton of Lucerne, deprived of sight at the age of four, from small pox) devotes some pages to the “Manner of training the dogs which must be used as guides by the blind”.
Maybe because the systematic training of guide-dogs for the blind was a concept developed in Germany during World War One.
However, in 1930, Miss Guilly d’Herbemont promoted the use of a white cane for veterans of World War One. Having bought two books by The Moon Society in embossed numerals, both religious, can anybody throw some light on them. Nonetheless, in 1877 he wrote of braille, “This system has so many advantages that render it popular among the blind, that they would undoubtedly adopt it in preference to all others, if they were left free to make their own choice.”[3] What accounts for the reluctance to use a writing system that offered elegance, compactness, portability, and perhaps most important of all, the freedom to write?
How did braille so quickly find a place in an institution that championed Boston Line Type? Perkins director Michael Anagnos wrote of braille, “The scientific ingenuity upon which its construction is based, renders it remarkably simple and methodical; and it is thereby easily acquired and remembered. Smith reassigned the braille cells so that the most frequently used English letters were represented by the cells with the fewest dots.
It was not until 1918 that Standard braille was selected as the official writing system for the U.S.
I like to think that this is one of the first milestones in the beginnings of the disability rights movement.
Since the superintendents of the schools for the blind were all ex-officio members of the American Printing House board of trustees, their opinions were weighty.
I suppose that, since braille had proved its pre-eminence, the American educators stopped hesitating about the best system, because it was urgent.
After the war, mobility training and guide dogs became more common because the war veterans demanded them.


The arrangement for musical notation is so systematic, so concise, and so comprehensive, that it can scarcely be equalled by any similar contrivance.”[11] Arising from the unequivocal findings of this comparative study, the school added braille into its curriculum for both reading and writing, without dropping its older methods. This Modified, or American, braille might have been a bit faster to read and write than Standard braille.
However, at least some of the attachment may have been perpetuated by the greater availability of nonbraille materials for many previous decades. Futhermore, it was better that the same system was adopted by all : globalization of the war, globalization of writing for blind readers. Gerhard Stalling, a medical officer of the German army, noticed that its sheep dog spontaneously helped a blind man. Mobility training programme with a long cane was developed after World War Two by American instructors, under the impulse of Richard Edwin Hoover.
They are large and look 1960s, was this non braille system still in use then and by whom, anybody know, thanks. Unfortunately, it introduced yet another writing system for students to learn, and another camp of bickering proponents in the increasingly contentious argument about the best writing system for readers who were blind. John Sibley, superintendent of the braille-pioneering Missouri School, complained in 1891 that he was forced to choose between APH materials in New York Point and embossed alphabet type.
This was long after many schools had incorporated braille instruction into their curricula because of their students’ preference.
Among all the donors, I would like to quote a couple, George and Cora Kessler who in 1915 organized the British, French and Belgian Permanent Blind Relief War Fund in Paris. An American philanthropist, Dorothy Harrison Eustis, living near Vevey in Switzerland (where she used to breed dogs for the Swiss army and police) came back enthusiastic from a visit to Potsdam’s guide-dog training school for blind veterans. Only about 1970, Doctor Claude Chambet introduced it into the center that she had founded for the rehabilitation of the visually impaired people in Marly-le-Roi, near Paris. In 1928, she founded two associations to train guide-dogs, L’oeil qui voit, in Vevey, and, The Seeing Eye, in Nashville, Tennessee.
This very closeness hed perhaps contributed towards overcoming the reluctance to adopt a foreign system.



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