APR 07, 2018 8:45 AM PDT

Braille Neue: A Font for the Blind and Sighted

WRITTEN BY: Julia Travers

Japanese designer Kosuke Takahashi created a new font called Braille Neue that overlays English and Japanese alphabets with Braille, in an attempt to create more synchronicity and co-use between the writing systems.

Braille was invented in the 19th century by Louis Braille, who lost his sight in childhood. Defined by blocks called cells with patterns of raised bumps called dots, it is a tactile language still in use today.

“The biggest benefit is that one sign can work for everyone anywhere. Additionally, this typeface does not require Braille to take up additional sign space,” Takahashi said of the font’s potential usefulness in displays and directions.

Braille Neue, credit: Kosuke Takahashi

Developing Braille Neue

This project began with Takahashi's own desire to be able to read and translate Braille for the sighted. Braille does not have a correlation with alphabetic glyphs. Takahashi first experimented with overlaying Braille and Japanese characters but ended up with “terrible shapes” and “messed-up” lines. He then tried using the simpler forms of the Latin alphabet before returning to his efforts with Japanese.

“Braille Neue consists of two typesets - Braille Neue Standard, which is for the English alphabet, and Braille Neue Outline, which is for Japanese and English,” his website conveys.

Takahashi’s font is not the first to create a font that meshes Braille and Latin alphabets, and he references and links to other examples on his site.

Braille’s Role in Modern Blind Life

Traditional Braille appears on embossed paper. Braille readers can also use a refreshable Braille display or terminal, a device that uses raised, rounded pins to create the changing symbols. Braille users can write in Braille with a stylus and slate, portable note-taking systems, or with the aid of a computer or tablet linked to a Braille-enabled printer.

Text-to-speech computer programs and apps are also used by many sight-impaired individuals. With the ongoing evolution of assistive tech, some blind individuals do not see Braille as an essential gateway to literacy and success in the modern world.

“Literacy evolves. When Braille was invented, in the 19th century, we had nothing else. We didn’t even have radio. At that time, blindness was a disability. Now it’s just a minor, minor impairment,” Laura J. Sloate, who is the managing director of a Wall Street investment management firm and is blind, told The New York Times. She relies on multiple phone services and text-to-speech assistants to stay up to date on the markets throughout the day.

In 2009, the advocacy group National Federation of the Blind reported that less than 10 percent of the 1.3 million legally blind Americans read Braille. It identified a “Braille literacy crisis” and called for increased instruction in public schools.

Takahashi sees a role for his font as a bridge between Braille and other alphabets, particularly in public spaces serving diverse populations. “Our aim is to use this universal typeset for Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics 2020 to create a truly universal space where anyone can access information,” his site states.

 

Source:

Fast Company

National Federation of the Blind

New York Times

About the Author
  • Julia Travers is a writer, artist and teacher. She frequently covers science, tech, conservation and the arts. She enjoys solutions journalism. Find more of her work at jtravers.journoportfolio.com.
You May Also Like
APR 10, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Japanese Spacecraft Launched to Clean Space Junk
APR 10, 2021
Japanese Spacecraft Launched to Clean Space Junk
  There are currently around 900,000 pieces of man-made space junk orbiting Earth- mostly from now-defunct satellit ...
APR 29, 2021
Technology
Frequent Social Media Use May Not be a Sign of Addiction, Study Finds
APR 29, 2021
Frequent Social Media Use May Not be a Sign of Addiction, Study Finds
Social media has been a transformative technology, changing many things about our life: the fabric of social movements, ...
MAY 06, 2021
Clinical & Molecular DX
Using Biology as Technology: A Paradigm Shift
MAY 06, 2021
Using Biology as Technology: A Paradigm Shift
Digital networks have changed the world by integrating into almost every aspect of our lives, but they have yet to direc ...
JUN 24, 2021
Technology
New Hydrogel Designed to Prevent Post-surgical Heart Tissue Adhesions
JUN 24, 2021
New Hydrogel Designed to Prevent Post-surgical Heart Tissue Adhesions
Nearly 20% of cardiac surgery patients will require another operation at some point in the future. This is especially tr ...
JUL 08, 2021
Earth & The Environment
New System Predicts Future Cod Supplies for Next 10 Years
JUL 08, 2021
New System Predicts Future Cod Supplies for Next 10 Years
Cod stocks in the North Sea and the Barents Sea may be predicted ten years in advance for the first time, thanks to a ne ...
JUL 28, 2021
Technology
Addressing The Environmental Impact Of Disposable Masks
JUL 28, 2021
Addressing The Environmental Impact Of Disposable Masks
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, mask wearing was a regular part of life as governments imposed mandates to help ...
Loading Comments...