In the world of vision loss, the invention of braille must be compared to the invention of the printing press – its birth was nothing short of a revolution.
The invention of the wheel, the invention of fire, the invention of the printing press, … all of these advances caused human civilization to leap forward as could not have been imagined prior to their invention.
We in the 21st century find it hard to comprehend how enormous the impact of these inventions was, but we are experiencing our own shift with the advent of artificial intelligence.
The printing press broke the iron grip that the elite held over learning. Suddenly it was possible for commoners to read, learn skilled trades and become, for all intents and purposes, a middle class. It signalled the beginning of nationalist movements where before there were empires and disparate groups of people ruled by the strongest. Modern thought, the rule of law and the rights of man could not have been adopted without egalitarian access to literacy.
In every age, literacy is power. Louis Braille revolutionised human life once again, with the invention of braille, as blind people had been kept reliant on second-hand knowledge. With greater literacy, blind people could attain education and employment commensurate with the times.
Today, because of braille, blind people are lawyers, politicians, programmers, journalists, clergy, teachers, authors, philosophers, musicians, linguists, theologians, scholars; and all these professions are within our reach, not solely because print-reading people grant us access to them, but because we ourselves are literate and can process the same written record as our peers. We can deduce, make our own conclusions, agree or disagree with tradition; and write our own accounts of history.