Louis Braille's Adult Life and Late Years

Louis continued to refine his system.  He adapted his system, now generally termed "Braille" in honor of him, to music.  He graduated from the school in 1828, but stayed there as an assistant teacher.  Before long, he was promoted to a full-time teacher.  (Notably, he was the first teacher at the school to be blind.)  Besides his teaching job, he also had a job playing the organ at one of the largest churches in Paris.

Meanwhile, his students worked hard, handwriting books in Braille.  Louis encouraged them, himself doing his best to get his system approved by the French government.  Dr. Pignier even arranged for Louis to exhibit Braille at the 1834 Paris Exposition of Industry, during which the king watched a performance.  However, the monarch did not offer any official support, to Louis' disappointment.

Louis had meant his system for blind people, of course, but he realized that to the sighted person, Braille appeared to be a difficult code.  With assistance from his friend Francois-Pierre Foucault, he came up with a better way for blind people to write to sighted people, which he termed "raphigraphy." This system consisted of raised dots in the shape of letters.  It was written with a stylus and slate or a raphigraphe, a special machine much like a typewriter (see picture.)  Louis frequently used this method for writing letters to his mother.

Not long later, in the early 1840s, Pierre-Armand Dufau replaced Louis' old friend Dr. Pignier as head of the Royal Institute for Blind Youth.  Dufau was concerned that the Braille system made blind children too independent.  Afraid for the jobs of the sighted teachers, he banned the use of Braille.  But the students resisted, continuing to write Braille books, letters, and notes.  Furious at this lack of compliance, Dufau burned all the handwritten Braille books, confiscated all of the styluses and slates, and inflicted severe punishment on any student who continued to write.  Louis, a teacher at the time, watched in helpless horror.  Dufau did, however, have a change of heart in later years, even praising the system.  

Meanwhile, Louis' health worsened.  He had been diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis, a fatal disease he contracted early in his childhood at the school.  Many of the boys there had wracking coughs, a symptom of tuberculosis, and since there were many children in a small space, the disease spread quickly.