The NYISE Logo - linked ot homepage
NYISE: Our History

Reading Codes for the Blind:
, Alston, Lucas, Moon,


    These early attemps to bring reading to the blind started what was to be a 100 year battle as to what form it would take. The premise that what appeared nice to the eye must be best for the blind had many followers. Gall himself sumed up his feelings as follows:
    "Any attempt to introduce a literature for the blind would certainly be ruined by founding it on an arbitrary alphabet. No man can ever be expected to feel so much interest in a thing which he must learn before he can understand, as in that which is plain to his eyes and to his understanding..."

    James Gall introduced an angular roman type in 1831. The Gospel of St. John was the first major work produced in 1834. It was used for a time at the Blind Asylum in Endinburgh, Glasgow and London.

    Image of Gall Alphabet
    Return to Top

    Alston was treasurer of the Endinburgh Asylum. He setup a press and produced several works using this form of the roman type.
    Image of Lucas Alphabet
    Return to Top

    The Lucas type was introduced in 1838. This system is a sort of stenographic shorthand. The letters are altogether arbitrarily chosen, and consist of lines with or without a dot at one end. It was never very extensively used, and in it little effort is made to retain the form of the roman letter.

    Image of Lucas Alphabet

    Return to Top

    Moon type tried to retain the form of the roman letter as far as was compatible with tangibility. The Moon system of embossed reading was invented by Dr William Moon in 1845. It was still used in the early part of the 20th century. Thomas Rhodes Armitage, founder of the British and Foreign Blind Association for promoting the Education of the Blind (now known as the Royal National Institute for the Blind played a key roll in evaluating the various codes in Europe and leading the movement to make Braille the standard code used today.

    Image of Moon Alphabet

    View of 2 pages of Moon type from the NYISE Archives.

    The Brighton Society for the Blind has an excellent collection
    of information on Dr. Moon and the Moon code.

    Return to Top

    J. W. Klein
    Klein was the founder of the first school for the blind in Vienna, Austria. He developed a form of needle or punctured print used for a time in several European countries.

    Code used by Klein circa 1809 of punched pin letters.
    The NYISE archives has an examples of a devices
    that could produce this type of printing for the blind.

Return to Top


The New York Institute for Special Education,
Development Department, 999 Pelham Parkway, Bronx, NY 10469

Ph: (718) 519-7000 ext. 667 |