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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 33.djvu/661

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WRITING-MACHINES FOR THE BLIND.

WRITING-MACHINES FOR THE BLIND.
By ARTHUR GOOD.

A NUMBER of philanthropists before Valentin Haüy had thought of various means of facilitating the education of the blind and placing them in relations with seeing persons; but, ingenious as their isolated attempts may have been, the necessary cohesion to constitute them a single whole was lacking in them, and they were destined to disappear with their authors. In the sixteenth century, Lucas, of Saragossa, conceived the idea of tracing the letters of the alphabet in hollows on wood. Moseau, of Paris, in 1640 devised the first characters in relief, but he was not encouraged, and gave up his experiments. The English blind scholar Sanderson constructed the first calculating tablets. Diderot tells of books which were printed by Prault for blind Mile, de Salignac, who died in 1763, but gives no further details on the subject. We are likewise ignorant of the methods followed by Bernouilli, at the beginning of the seventeenth century, for the instruction of Mile. Valdkirk. The obscurity which prevails concerning these essays made in times so near our own shows that they did not become general, either because the methods were not practical

PSM V33 D661 Stylographic inscription by a blind writer late 19th century.jpg
Fig. 1.—Fac-simile of a Stylographic Inscription in Relief, written by a Blind Man for the Journal "La Nature."

enough, or because they were not pushed with sufficient energy. The methods of Haüy and Louis Braille were more successful.

Valentin Haüy, born in 1745, was a brother of the celebrated mineralogist, to whom we owe the "Crystallography." Struck with the success of the labors of his contemporary, the Abbé de l'Epée, for the deaf-mutes, he resolved to give to the blind also facilities for instruction and means to cultivate their minds. By