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October 2: Mathematics in Braille

October 1, 2015

Abraham-Nemeth_2761468bAbraham Nemeth, the founder of a system of Braille for mathematics that enabled people without sight to study and work in the field, died just short of his 95th birthday on this date in 2013. Born blind into a Yiddish-speaking family of Hungarian Jews, he developed the Nemeth Braille Code for Mathematics and Science Notation in 1952. (He had long before taught himself to play piano using Braille music books.) The Nemeth Code has undergone four revisions and is widely used today. Nemeth worked throughout his life to unify Braille transcription and to develop rules for oral transmission of mathematical texts. After his retirement from an academic career, he spent time transcribing Hebrew liturgy into Braille and as an active supporter of the National Federation of the Blind.

“Blind physicists and engineers and math teachers and software designers everywhere thank Dr. Nemeth and say his name daily as they run fingers across lines of complexity written in Nemeth code.... For those who were privileged to know him, he will also be missed as a warm, funny, and generous man who just happened to be blind and whose life is an example of what can be accomplished with the right blend of faith and intelligence in one truly treasured human being.” —Deborah Kendrick, American Foundation for the Blind