Charles Barbier: A hidden story

Philippa Campsie

Abstract


Charles Barbier (1767–1841), who invented raised-point writing and the tools for creating it, is remembered today only as a precursor of Louis Braille. Stories of his life and work are mainly variations on two accounts, one by Alexandre-René Pignier published in 1859 and one by Pierre Henri in 1952. The former misrepresented the relationship between Braille and Barbier and the latter hypothesized how Barbier might have developed his ideas and introduced them to Institution Royale des Jeunes Aveugles in Paris. These two accounts have distorted modern ideas about the invention of point writing and the role played by Braille. The author's study of Barbier's correspondence and publications shows that (1) the method that inspired Louis Braille was never intended for the military but was specifically designed for blind people; (2) Barbier did not demonstrate it at the Institution Royale des Jeunes Aveugles; (3) it was not used at the school in a phonetic version; and (4) Barbier and Braille met only after Braille had published his own system. These findings, drawn from primary documents, make it possible to draw a more accurate picture of the original inventor of the method and tools of point writing for people with visual impairments and thereby a more accurate picture of Braille's own achievements.


Keywords


blindness; Charles Barbier; Braille

Full Text:

HTML


DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18061/dsq.v41i2.7499

Copyright (c) 2021 Philippa Campsie

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Volume 1 through Volume 20, no. 3 of Disability Studies Quarterly is archived on the Knowledge Bank site; Volume 20, no. 4 through the present can be found on this site under Archives.

Beginning with Volume 36, Issue No. 4 (2016), Disability Studies Quarterly is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives license unless otherwise indicated. 

Disability Studies Quarterly is published by The Ohio State University Libraries in partnership with the Society for Disability Studies.

If you encounter problems with the site or have comments to offer, including any access difficulty due to incompatibility with adaptive technology, please contact libkbhelp@lists.osu.edu.

ISSN: 2159-8371 (Online); 1041-5718 (Print)