World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

William Bell Wait

Article Id: WHEBN0000738264
Reproduction Date:

Title: William Bell Wait  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: New York Point, Braille, Tactile alphabet, List of creators of writing systems, Korean Braille
Collection: 1839 Births, 1916 Deaths, Creators of Writing Systems
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

William Bell Wait

William Bell Wait
Born William Bell Wait
March 25, 1839
Amsterdam, NY
Died October 25, 1916
Spouse(s) Phebe Jane Babcock M. D

William Bell Wait (1839–1916) was a teacher in the New York Institute for the Education of the Blind who invented New York Point, a system of writing for the blind that enjoyed wide use in the United States before the Braille system was universally adopted there. Mr. Wait also applied the New York Point principles to adapt them for use in over 20 languages, created a form of New York Point to notate music, and invented a number of devices to better type and print embossed material for the visually impaired.


  • Education and early life 1
  • Inventions 2
    • New York Point System 2.1
    • Other inventions 2.2
  • Other accomplishments 3
  • Publications 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Education and early life

Wait grew up in New York and attended the Albany Academy and later the Albany Normal College in 1859. Subsequent to graduating he obtained a teaching position at the New York Institute for the Education of the Blind, where he spent two years. He then went on to study under Tremain and Peckham in Albany. He was called to the bar in 1862. He was acting first superintendent of the City of Kingston, N.Y. school district in 1863. In October 1863 he was appointed Principal of the New York Institute for the Education of the Blind. He served in this capacity until March 1905. He was subsequently appointed Emeritus Principal and served until his death in 1916.


New York Point System

Wait developed a keen interested in raised letters and tried to devise a tangible printing and writing system. He later developed the New York Point System in which points were used to represent letters or their sound. This system contained “twenty-six capitals, twenty-six small letters, numerals, punctuation marks and short forms for diphthongs, triphthongs, syllables and for words and parts of words in common use.”[1] He was awarded medals at the Chilean Exposition and International Exposition in 1873 for these accomplishments.[2] Before his death Wait oversaw the adaptation of his point system to more than twenty different languages, including Hebrew, Arabic, Japanese and Chinese.[3]

Other inventions

He followed his inventions with a tangible musical notation system in 1872. He completed the Kleidograph in 1894. This machine is much like a typewriter which could be used for embossing the raised letters of the New York Point system unto paper. He invented the Stereograph. This machine was used for metal plate embossing, to facilitate bulk printing of books for the visually impaired. He received the John Scott most deserving Medal from the Franklin Institute of Philadelphia in 1900 for his inventions. He later developed a printing press which used a breakthrough process which allowed for embossing on dual sides of a book page. He also formulated more economic and durable methods of book binding, reducing the long-term costs of printing.

Other accomplishments

William B. Wait founded the following organizations:

  • American Association of Instructors of the Blind (1871)
  • Society for providing Evangelical Religious Literature for the Blind (1874)


William B. Wait wrote the following books:

  • The Normal Course of Piano Technique (1887)
  • Harmonic Notation (1888)
  • Phases of Punctography in Relation to Visual Typography, writing, printing, bookbinding, and other features (1900)
  • The Uniform Type Question, an examination of the report of the Uniform Type Committee of June, 1913 (1915)
  • New Aspects of the Uniform Type Folly (1916)

See also


  1. ^ Outlook for the Blind (Autumn 1916). In Memoriam-William B. Wait (Vol. X, No. 3 ed.). Outlook for the Blind. pp. 66–71. 
  2. ^ The New York Times (26 October 1916). "William Bell Wait, the Inventor, Dead". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 May 2012. 
  3. ^ The New York Institute for Special Education. "The Inventor of the New York Point System of Writing for the Blind". Retrieved 4 May 2012. 

External links

  • Biographical Sketch of William Bell Wait
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.