200 in 2009!

Louis Braille was born on January 4, 1809.

On January 4, 2009, the braille world commemorated the 200th anniversary of Louis Braille’s birth by hosting an international conference in Paris. Julie went to Paris to attend this conference and associated celebrations that commemorated this great day. These celebrations included a visit to the Pantheon where Louis Braille’s ashes are contained in the crypt. She attended a night time concert at Nottradame to hear a recital by five blind organists as Louis Braille himself was a keen organist.

The conference itself commenced on January 5, 2009, at UNESCO where over 400 delegates from 46 countries from all over the world attended. (including 10 from New Zealand)

The conference was punctuated by a dinner held in the City Hall in Paris and attended by the Paris Mayor. The morning after involved a visit to Louis Braille’s birthplace in a small village 40 km east of Paris in which Julie travelled by bus to get there.

“This was a real highlight for me” says Julie” as we got to go into the Braille’s family kitchen and touched the board Louis’s father had made for him to learn the shape of print letters”. Julie explains “we even got to go into the workshop where Louis had his accident at the age of three while playing with his father’s sharp saddle making tools”

“I think the main thing I took away from attending such a conference was that braille is the key to unlocking the potential of blind people” reflects Julie.

” Access to communication in the widest sense is access to knowledge. We do not need pity, nor do we need to be reminded that we are vulnerable. We must be treated as equals and communication is the way we can bring this about” – Louis Braille

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