Monday, January 15, 2007

To Touch

I have recently been caught by the fascinating topic of Braille in Design. Braille is now mainly used by blind people but the original idea was for soldiers to be able to safely read at night.

Braille is a reading system of raised dots. Named after its inventor, Louis Braille, the system's basic "Braille cell" consists of six dots grouped in two vertical columns of three dots each.

There are two different types of braille:
Grade 1 Braille is the most basic representation of letters. Several fonts are available for transcription of Braille 1, because it follows the standard alphabet and keyboard.
Grade 2 Braille, on the other hand, combines approximately 300 contractions. Duxbury software is most commonly used to transcribe Braille 2, where words like "and" or combinations like "th" are represented with one character rather than two or three. This style is more common because letters are about three times larger in Braille, so shortcuts help a great deal.

Braille has most recently been recognized on pharmaceutical packaging and signage. There was a great article from Ping Mag about accessibility and braille on signage and architectural elements. This Braille label maker is also a cool tool.

Products that incorporate braille into their design:
M. Chapoutier Wine
Postage Stamps
Ceramic Tiles, as in the the above image

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