A typeface you can see and feel
posted on 31st May 2018
Most people, like myself, have little or no understanding of braille – the universal tactile writing system used by and for the visually impaired. As a consequence, sighted people tend to overlook or consider braille as important. As a designer, I have never had to incorporate it in my designs. But this got me thinking – shouldn’t we be inclusive and design for all people? It’s a hard task, but surely not impossible.
I was excited to discover that someone has created a typeface that combines visible characters and braille, allowing sighted and blind readers to use the same text.
Japanese product and graphic designer Kosuke Takahashi created the ‘Braille Nueu’ universal typeface, which derives from the popular Helvetica Neue font. The typeface comes in two styles – Braille Neue standard (English) and Braille Neue outline (English and Japanese). It originated from a simple question Takahashi asked himself – ‘why can I not read braille?’ He then prototyped his idea and started collecting feedback both from sighted readers and the visually impaired.
Although Takahashi is not the first to combine braille with visible latin letters, Braille Neue is the first typeface that also incorporates Japanese characters. He hopes that this universal typeface will be used at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, making information easily accessible to everyone.
Takahashi upgraded braille for the 21st century. The new typeface communicates to both the sighted and blind people in the same space, fostering awareness and literacy of braille. Hopefully in the future we’ll see typeface combined with braille included in all public spaces and products, since space restrictions won’t be an issue anymore. I sure hope so – we’re all human and deserve the same treatment, regardless of our impairments. And as a designer, my goal is to be more aware of the public I can design for.
RITA GOMES – JUNIOR GRAPHIC DESIGNER
Rita, newbie to the team, came all the way from Portugal to spice things up. Always with her mini cup of espresso in her hand and selling her country as the best in the world, she’s curious and adventurous, always striving to learn and absorb what the world has to offer to input into her work.