1 From Cypher to Code

NAVIGATION: Station 1 presents historical and modern aids on a wheelchair-accessible table and is located to the right of the entrance door. Directly in front of the table there are tactile floor markings to feel out with the cane or long stick. The description of the objects runs from the bottom right to the top left. The numbering of the objects does not correspond to the reading order. All objects can be touched and felt, unless they are under acrylic glass.

1 From Cypher to Code

DESCRIPTION: The following introductory text is on the wall above the table.

„to touch“(verb), to slide one’s hands carefully or unsteadily over something, to search for something.

„touch“(noun), the ability to perceive something by touch, by pressure or impact.

„haptics“ 1. the sensation of feeling materials or objects, 2. the study of the sense of touch. (www.DWDS-Wörterbuch (translated))

In the 18th century, the question of how we experience the world was central to many sciences. In particular, the question of the role of the senses – mainly the visual sense and the sense of touch – in the cognitive process dominated the discussion.

What role did blind people play in this?
Who was Louis Braille?
How does the Braille writing system work?
What is the significance of Braille for education and social participation of blind and visually impaired people even today?

This installation is dedicated to the Braille writing system with historical exhibits, playful approaches and current personal positions.

NAVIGATION: Now follow the individual objects on the table, the starting point is at the bottom right corner of the table. The first object is a large book.

1.11 Fine Pastries with Coffee and Tea

DESCRIPTION: A large book with a cloth spine. It contains many recipes with pages printed in Braille on both front and back.

Over 100 Tried and Tested Recipes, DZB Leipzig, 1967

Chocolate Cake

2 eggs, 1 pinch of salt, 1 tablespoon of quark (German ingredient similar to cream cheese), 50 grams of hazelnuts, 4-5 tablespoons of milk, 50 grams of flour, 10 grams of cocoa, 2 pinches baking powder, 3-4 sweetener tablets, 2 tablespoons diabetic marmalade/jam, 1 tablespoon margarine, 2 sweetener tablets, 1 tablespoon cocoa. Beat the egg yolks, salt and quark until foamy. Toast the hazelnuts to remove the brown skin. Then grind the nuts into the almond milk and add to the egg mixture, along with the milk, the flour sifted with cocoa, baking powder and the sweetener tablets dissolved in a bit of water. Fold the stiff peaks of the 2 egg whites into the batter. Grease a small tin and fill it with the batter. Bake at medium heat for about 20 minutes. Cut the cake in half crosswise, spread the diabetic marmalade/jam onto the bottom half and put the top part of the cake on top. Remove the boiling marmalade from heat, and stir in the dissolved sweetener and the cocoa mix. Cover the cake in this glaze and garnish as desired. Decorate with peeled almonds. You can also use melted diabetic chocolate for the icing.

Exerpt from: Über 100 ausprobierte Rezepte, DZB Leipzig 1967

1.10 Braille Wave

DESCRIPTION: Above the recipe book is a blue Braille display the size of a computer keyboard with 40 Braille elements, 8 writing keys and 3 function keys.

Today, blind and visually impaired children are taught 10-finger writing on the computer keyboard, among other things, with a Braille display supplementing the existing keyboard. The Braille Wave is a compact and mobile Braille display with 40 Braille elements in the upper keyboard area. This line displays the font of the digital terminal in Braille. Below is the Braille keyboard with 8 writing keys, as well as additional function keys. The keyboard can also be used as a note-taking device without a PC.
(Manufacturer: Handy Tech Elektronik GmbH)

Loan: BSBH

1.9 Perkins-Brailler

DESCRIPTION: To the left of the Braille Wave is a box with A5 paper. The paper can be used to write on the Braille machine. The Perkins Brailler is located below the box.

Since its invention (1951) in the USA, the Perkins Brailler has been the most widely used mechanical Braille machine in the world. In addition to the six keys that can be pressed simultaneously or individually to imprint the various Braille letters and characters on the paper, there is a space bar, a backspace key (one character back) and a line switch at the front of the machine. Inter-dot printing makes it possible to print Braille on both sides of the paper, doubling the number of characters per sheet.

Property of the Dialogue Museum

Perkins Instruction Manual

How to Correctly Load Paper

The paper is rolled up at the back of the black roll until only the upper part is visible. While writing, it is gradually unrolled again.

  1. Fold the the two small silver levers (right/left) forwards
  2. The paper is clamped at the left edge between the silver and black roller
  3. Fold the two silver levers to the back, then the paper is secured
  4. Roll up the paper with the two knobs on the right and left side

Writing / Typing

Each type key represents one of the 1 of the points of Braille:

3 2 1 4 5 6

  1. The keys can be pressed individually or simultaneously
  2. If you want to use the letter A (1. point in Braille) the third key must be pressed. To do this, use the index finger of your left hand.
  3. If you want to use the letter T (2., 3., 4., 5. points of Braille) the first, second, fourth and fifth keys must be pressed simultaneously. To do this, use the ring and index fingers of your left hand and the index and middle fingers of your right hand.
  4. After each written line, use the write head to move it forward again

1.8 The Great Duden

DESCRIPTION: A small book above the Braille machine with a fabric cover and black lettering.

Spelling A-Z, 15th Edition from 1961

Loan: Klara Kletzka

1.7 The Great Duden, G-H

DESCRIPTION: To the left of the small book sits a large book with a fabric spine. The dictionary is printed on both sides with Braille.

Dictionary of German Spelling
Volume 7, G and H of 17 Braille Volumes and one relief volume,
ed. Horst Klien, Leipzig, 1961

Loan: Dr. Andreas Heinecke

1.2 Reading with Hands

DESCRIPTION: Above the dictionaries is a 24 inch screen. You can see hands feeling over pages of books with Braille. You can also hear soft rustling, stroking and leafing sounds.

Film and Audio Documentation
Actress: Anne Petrine Waagö
Duration: 4 min 13 sec

1.6 Braille Strip Chart Recorder

Description: To the left of the Perkins Brailler is the Braille strip pen. A roll of paper is attached to the right side of the green plastic case, and there are 7 buttons on the front.

Oskar Picht from Berlin developed the Braille machine around 1900. The technical aid has 6 to 8 writing keys, a space bar, and various function keys. It works like a typewriter except it presses tactile Braille letters into the paper. In 1910, Picht also invented the „Strip Chart Recorder“. With this, texts of any length can be written on paper rolls – without changing the paper – ideal for blind or partially visually impaired stenotypists.

Property: Dialogue Museum

1.5 Braille Travel Machine

Description: To the left of the strip pen is the Braille Travel Machine. It is located under acrylic glass and is therefore not to be touched. A small, handy Braille machine is attached to a red wooden plate. The paper roller and inner mechanism are exposed, there are 7 buttons in front.

The Braille machine in portable or travel-friendly format has been manufactured in the Mechanical Workshop for Aids for the Blind in Leipzig since about 1975. The compact model is light and easy to transport.

Loan: Susanne Reith

1.4 Braille Board with Stylus

Description: To the left of the travel machine is a Braille board with a stylus. It is also located under acrylic glass and is therefore not to be touched. In a A4 size large wooden frame, a grid template is attached, which is 2 lines wide. Underneath there is a board with 6-point recesses. The frame can be unfolded to place a sheet of paper between the stencil and the blackboard.

Until the invention of the Braille machine, the writing tablet was the only and most straightforward way to write Braille. It consists of a grid template and a board with 6-dot indentations. With a stylus, the dots are pressed – laterally reversed – into the paper in between. This dot pattern can be felt with the fingertips.

Loan: Frankfurt Foundation for the Blind and Visually Impaired

1.3 Spiked Letterbox

DESCRIPTION: Above the Braille board is a spiked font box under the acrylic glass pane. In a small unfolded wooden case, there is a wooden typesetting box on the left, in which metal print letters are inserted. On the opposite side is a thick felt base and a wooden strip in which you can put the letters.

Johann Wilhelm Klein invented the so-called ‚Spiked Script‘ in 1807. This typeface consists of dotted, large Latin letters. They are pressed into the paper with the help of a ‚Spiked Pen Apparatus‘. The letters can be read by sighted people and felt by blind and visually impaired people through the elevations of the pinpricks. Each letter must be scanned thoroughly; a quick reading of the spiked script is impossible.

Loan: Susanne Reith

1.1 Paris Celebrates the 100th Anniversary of Louis Braille’s Death

DESCRIPTION: Above the spiked font box is a small screen. A historical black-and-white film can be seen.

Benefactor of Blind Honored
Paris, France, 6 January 1952
On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Braille’s death, the French government had his bones, which were resting in his birthplace of Coupvray, exhumed and transferred to the Panthéon in Paris. His two hands remain in Coupvray. The deaf-blind writer Helen Keller (1880-1968) is invited to the celebrations as a prominent activist and guest of honour.

© Universal International News, criticalpast.com

Duration: 1 min. 20 sec

SUBTITLING: France observes the 100th anniversary of the death of Louis Braille, inventor of the touch system of reading for the sightless. Many of them gather as his remains are transferred from a small cemetery in the Pantheon in Paris. Young and old they are present to do honor to a man who’s ingenuity has permitted the blind throughout the world to see and be educated through their fingers. These are but a few of the many thousands who over the years have been taken out of darkness by Luis Braille. The Pantheon, which France reserves for its most honored dead, is the destination of the funeral procession. This is to be the final resting place of a man who though blind himself since infancy, perfected the system of raised dots and alphabet that have remained virtually unchanged for almost a century. Here, in the grandeur of one of France’s the most magnificent buildings President Vincent Auriol was among those who paid tribute to the man who left to his fellow afflicted a priceless heritage. So rests in the nation’s hall of fame one who, more than anyone else, brought light into darkness.

1 Timeline

DESCRIPTION: There is a timeline on the wall behind the table.

1809 – Louis Braille (1809–1852) is born in Coupvray near Paris
1812 – While playing in his father’s saddlery (saddle workshop), Louis Braille injures his eye and goes blind after a bilateral infection of the eyes
1815 – Charles Barbier (1767–1841), a former artillery officer and land surveyor, develops a variety of secret scripts, including the Écriture nocturne (night writing)
1819 – Louis Braille enters the Institution Royal des Jeunes Aveugles (Royal Institute for the Blind) in Paris
1825 – Presentation of the 6-dot script by the 15-year-old Louis Braille (developed 1821–1825), which simplified the system of dots and assigned them to known Latin letters; signs for capital letters and numbers extend the range of characters
1828 – Louis Braille is an excellent student and at 19 becomes a teacher (he was also already working as an organist in various churches)
1829 – Publication of the Braille writing and notation system as an embossed print: Procédé pour écrire les paroles la musique et le plain-chant au moyen de points, à l’usage des aveugles et disposé pour eux
1839 – Publication of “Décapoint“ by Louis Braille for communication between blind and sighted people, with the matrix consisting of a maximum of 10 × 10 dots for each letter
1841 – Raphigraph writing instrument (dot matrix printer) by Pierre-François-Victor Foucault (1797–1871) for the “Décapoint“ introduced by Louis Braille
1850 – Official introduction of Braille in the schools for the blind in France
1952 – On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Braille’s death, the French exhumed his remains, from his birthplace of Coupvray and transferred them to the Panthéon, with his two hands remain in Coupvray. The deaf-blind writer Helen Keller (1880–1968), a prominent activist, is a celebrated guest of honour
1954 – UNESCO publishes World Braille Usage, with the Braille codes of all languages existing in Braille code
1980–1986 The 8-dot Euro Braille writing system or Computer Braille is developed
1998 – Reformation of German Braille with adaptation to the new German orthography and consideration of the Braille Commission of the German-speaking countries
2009 – 200th birthday and Braille anniversary in honour of Louis Braille held on 4 January 2009
2020 – Inclusion of Braille in the Intangible UNESCO World Cultural Heritage

NAVIGATION: To the left of the table is the exhibition wall, it is covered with fabric. Here hangs a banner with a quote from Helen Keller: „In our way, we, the blind are indebted to Louis Braille as mankind is to Gutenberg.“

2 Blind Talk

NAVIGATION: Station 2 is located in the room at the back on the right. From Station 1, one orients oneself along the exhibition wall; after just under 4 meters, tactile floor markings indicate the next station. The Blind Talk installation is a large screen from whose sides two narrow walls lead into the room. The audio station is in German with subtitles and has English language headphones on the right installation wall. To the left of the floor markings, in front of the screen are three stools.

6 Perspectives on 6 talking points

Six short film portraits provide insights into the different writing and
reading behaviour of Braille users, artistic aspects, and research results
on the future of Braille.
Duration: 2–6 min

3 Speak Braille

NAVIGATION: To the left of the audio station is station 3, titled Speak Braille. About 2 meters from the stools, directly against the back wall, is a microphone that you speak into. On the floor, the microphone is marked by guide dots. The spoken words are converted into Braille and projected onto the wall.

Speech input and
Braille Dot output

The Banquet of Belshazzar is a story from the Old Testament. In it, the Babylonian
King Belshazzar is at a boisterous, rowdy feast. He forbiddenly drinks from sacred vessels and then sees a hand coming out of nowhere. The spirit hand writes an incomprehensibly with fire on the wall, foretelling Belshazzar’s death. This installation is about a game with secret messages.

4 Braille Quiz

NAVIGATION: To the left of Station 3, on the long side of the room is Station 4, titled Braille Quiz. About 2 meters from the microphone, guide dots on the floor mark the narrow side of a table. On the table, which can be moved underneath, there are books on Braille, and next to it is a LEGO field with LEGO blocks with the Braille alphabet embossed on the top. On a second tabletop below the first, a question is asked with LEGO blocks on one side and answered with LEGO blocks on the opposite side.

5 Dot Cloud

NAVIGATION: Station 5, titled „Dot Cloud,“ follows on the left, right next to the entrance door. About 1 meter from the table, the guide dots on the floor mark the station. Braille stickers can be pasted on the wall to form a large dot cloud. The interactive installation ends here and can also be exited via the entrance door.