Some elements addressed by the Americans with Disabilities Act in fact pre-date it. Louis Braille was born in Coupvray, France, on January 4, 1809. He was a student at the National Institute for Blind Youth in Paris, France. At that time, books were created using raised print which was laborious to produce, hard to read, and difficult for individuals to write. While attending the Institute, Braille experimented with ways to create an alphabet that was easy to read with the fingertips. The writing system he invented, at age fifteen, evolved from the tactile “Ecriture Nocturne” (night writing) code invented by Charles Barbier for sending military messages that could be read on the battlefield at night, without light. Today, 121 years later, thanks to the ADA, braille is wide-spread and enriching the lives of its users.
Conversely, some aspects of the ADA have created ‘spin-offs’ that came after the ADA. Just as today’s microwave ovens are a result of military radar systems invented during WWII, today’s video game and other high tech developers include people who could not ply their craft without the computer-aided technology required by the ADA. The list of new technologies, discoveries and inventions that enrich the lives of its users is long and growing, and over the next 18 days we’ll be talking about braille, technology, curb cuts and other odds and ends like ‘truncated domes.’ Join the conversation as we count down to July 26th and the 25 anniversary of the ADA.