Louis Braille wasborn in Coupvray, a small town located southeast of Paris in Seine-et-Marne. His father was a saddlemaker, who also crafted harnesses, bags and leather straps. As soon as he could walk, Louis spent anytime he could in his father's workshop to play. At age three, he scratched his right eye while making holes in a piece of leather with a pruning knife or awl that too heavy for him. There was nothinganyone could do except patch and bind the affected eye. Louis could not help but rub it when it itched. The wound became severely infected and spread to his left eye, causing his blindness.
At theage of 10, Baille earned a scholarship to the National Institute for the Blind Youth in Paris, one of the first of its kind in the world. However, living conditions in the school were poor. Louis wasserved stale bread and water, and students were sometimes abused or locked up as a form of punishment.
Despite these circumstances, Braille proved to be a bright and creative student. His ear formusic enabled him to become an accomplished cellist and organist in classes taught by Marrigues. (Later in life, his musical talents this lead him to play the organ for churches all over France, and heheld the position of organist in Paris at the Church of Saint-Nicolas-des-Champs 1834 and at the Church of Saint-Vincent-de-Paul in 1845.)
Children at the school were taught basic craftsman skillsand simple trades. They were also taught how to read by feeling raised letters (a system devised by the school's founder, Valentin Haüy). However, because the raised letters were made using paper...