News Release - March 6, 2009

For Immediate Release: March 6, 2009

Contacts: Michelle Jeffers (415) 557-4282 mjeffers@sfpl.org

Celebrating 200 Years of Braille

Louis Braille Bicentennial Exhibit on View at San Francisco Public Library

San Francisco Public Library is celebrating the 200th birthday of Louis Braille by hosting the national traveling Louis Braille Bicentennial Exhibit that showcases his life history and his remarkable invention that brought the world of literacy to the blind.

Opening March 7, the exhibition from the National Braille Press will be on view through April 20 on the Main Library's Larkin Street Bridge, near the Library for the Blind and Print Disabled, 100 Larkin St., Second Floor.

Born on Jan. 4, 1809 in Coupvray, France, Louis Braille lost his vision at age 3. Just 12 years later, at 15, he invented an ingenious system of reading and writing by raised dots, creating a means of literacy for blind people that remains in use today around the world.

The exhibition's stunning images along with print and braille text, introduce the highlights of Louis' life, explore the braille production process and explain why braille remains relevant in the modern world even as technology replaces paper as a medium for communication.

The exhibition is sponsored by Access Services and supported by the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library.

Two programs will be offered along with the exhibit:

Saturday, March 14

Louis Braille: A Touch of Genius

Author C. Michael Mellor will read from and discuss the fully-illustrated, award-winning biography that includes Louis Braille's extant letters.

San Francisco Main Library, 100 Larkin St., Lower Level, Latino/Hispanic Community Meeting Room, 2-4 p.m.

Saturday, March 28

Braille - Past, Present and Future

Four local experts will talk about why braille, a 200-year-old invention, is an essential tool with an exciting future. This is an Evolve 2009 event. Speakers:

  • Winifred Downing, President, SFPL Library for the Blind and Print Disabled Advisory Committee
  • Jessica Lorenz, Director of Public Policy and Information, Rose Resnick Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired
  • Bill Gerrey, Rehabilitation Engineer, The Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute's Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center
  • Stuart Wittenstein, Ph.D., Superintendent, California School for the Blind

San Francisco Main Library, 100 Larkin St., Lower Level, Latino/Hispanic Community Meeting Room, 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m.

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