Louis Braille, born February 4, 1809, was blinded at age four as the result of an accident in his father’s shop. Nevertheless, he became an accomplished organist and cellist and won a scholarship in 1819 to attend the National Institute for Blind Youth in Paris. At age 15, Louis witnessed a demonstration there by Charles Barbier, a soldier who had invented ‘night writing,’ a system of letters embossed on cardboard for silent communication along trenches. While Barbier’s system was too complex to be practical, Braille simplified and adapted it to a six-dot code representing letters that enabled people with impaired vision to not only read but also write for themselves. In 1827, the first Braille book was published, but Braille himself died of tuberculosis at age 43–before his system gained widespread acceptance.