And the answer: Theodore Roosevelt.
The 26th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt served from 1901–1909. In 1904, Colonel Dan Tyler Moore was assigned as a military aide to Roosevelt, who was also an avid amateur boxer. During a sparring session between the two, Moore hit Roosevelt so hard that the President lost his ability to see in one eye.
Theodore Roosevelt was able to keep the knowledge of his impaired vision between close advisors during his time as President, but did you know that James Madison suffered from epilepsy, or that Bill Clinton is hearing-impaired? The subject of disabilities in the office of the President is rarely discussed in the media or addressed by the public eye, yet many of some of our most impactful Commanders in Chief have lived their entire lives with a disability. What’s more: the fight for recognition and better access to tools for individuals living with disabilities has been underway since the early 1800s, and likely far before then.
One of the oldest tools improving accessibility for vision impaired individuals is braille, the system of tactile reading. Braille was created by a 12-year old boy named Louis Braille in 1824. After suffering from an accident that caused him to lose total vision, Louis Braille discovered a French military code called "night writing" that allowed soldiers to communicate in darkness without having to speak. He used their coding to create his very own version, and made it accessible for the blind and reading impaired. This system of reading and writing has been used for nearly 200 years all over the world.
Did you know?
January is National Braille Literacy Month! Fascinatingly, braille is not a language—rather, it’s a system of raised dots that represent a code that can be translated into any language. Every letter, number, punctuation, and symbol can be written in braille (including musical notes!). Braille can also change the typographical emphasis of a word or sentence, such as with bold or italics. Learn more about braille and the history of it here.