On the dot.


Braille has a close and obvious relationship to the sense of touch. And it is something that wants to catch everyone’s attention, whether you can read it or not, through the inviting tactility of the raised dots and the pattern it seems to create. But the meaning of it is lost on most people, as it looks like a language of its own and excludes the ones who can’t read it. And so – and maybe rightly so, in the name of ‘equality’ – the tables have been turned.

What does braille mean to the blind? How does it work, how is it used and where is it to be found? Is it enriching to their lives in general, or just a simple tool to absorb information the rest of us read as written text? What role does the materials used play?

My project aim is to find out how braille and three dimensional shapes can be used in creating graphics meant primarily for blind and partially sighted people – not necessarily excluding the rest of the population, but which would mean that if they wanted to get the full meaning, they would have to take a closer look at it and understanding a bit about its function. And I also want to use the pattern like qualities of braille to draw attention to it from the sighted audience and in doing so, give an insight to its importance to people living with this disability.

Whether my final outputs will be functional or more playful, decorative applications remains to be seen.


Two ideas from the peer group sessions:

Investigate how everyday shopping can be for the blind. How a shelf in a food store would look like if the packaging would be suited primarily for the blind; if all cereal cartons were white, with raised line drawings and raised dots for the text.

Create a kind of hybrid alphabet, where letters and braille letters are combined. Could be used in the ‘how-to’ manual for teaching sighted people to read braille.


Posted on July 14, 2011, in Unit 3 - MP. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I’ve just read about JMU (maybe you’ve herad about it already), which aims to help enable visually impaired people lead independent lives through improving access to built environments. Maybe you it can be helpful for you contacting them: http://www.jmuaccess.org.uk

    I’ve came accross a book in TATE Modern’s bookshop, called “The Black Book of Colors”. It looks (and feels) amazing. The book is totally black, but the illustration and Braille letters are coated/embossed. I did not explore the book thoroughly, but it might worth to look at.
    I’ve found this link (http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2011/01/26/the-black-book-of-colors/) in a blog, which has a short description of the book and some images, but it is better to take the book in your hand.

  2. christianarvidsson

    Thanks, Peter. I’ll have a look at JMU right away. Thanks for posting!
    And yes, the Black book of colours is really great. I bought it earlier this spring 🙂

  3. Hi Christian,
    Thanks for posting the update and suggested experiments. Some good ideas there – though they are perhaps a little too focussed/specific. However, the idea of using visual rhetoric to highlight the distinction between perception by blind and sighted users is interesting – the supermarket idea is quite dramatic. These kinds of short experiments can help to persuade the project readers of the value of your work and the need to address the issue, but I think the route you were already taking should still remain central to the project.
    Good luck with it

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