Education: Precious Pods

For the harnessmaker of Coupvray, a village 20 miles east of Paris, it was an unusually busy day, and he was paying no attention to his three-year-old son playing in the shop. Then suddenly the child began to scream, and in an instant the horrified harnessmaker saw what had happened. The awl the boy had been playing with had slipped into his eye. By the end of that week in 1812, little Louis Braille was totally blind.

In time, he was to make the most of his affliction. He lived out his life as a blind, wasted consumptive, but he devised a...

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