It is always amazing coming across ideas which make you wonder ‘how has this never existed before?’, take for example this new braille typeface created by the clever Japanese designer Kosuke Takahashi. The typeface, aptly named Braille Neue, is a collection of both English and Japanese characters which are overlaid with their braille counterparts. At only 24 years old, the young creator Takahashi hopes his invention will “motivate more braille to be included in public spaces, as its inclusion is now often limited due to space restrictions”.
This typeface could change the way we tackle wayfinding design, by starting to break down barriers and open doors to innovative solutions that assist the population, those with sight or visually impaired. Using the ever popular Helvetica Neue, the Braille Neue is available in two styles; Braille Neue standard for English and Braille Neue outline for English/ Japanese.
Braille Neue outline can be used for both the Latin alphabet and Japanese characters.
When asked how Takahashi come up with the idea he said he started by simply asking himself “Why can I not read braille?”. He then began collecting information from readers with sight and those with impaired sight, asking for feedback on his prototype which helped define the Braille Neue typeface.
The creation of this influential typeface coincides with the release of Touchable Ink the “world’s first revolutionary printing ink”, which prints embossed braille that is highly pereceptible to the sense of touch. Satit Jantawiwat, chief creative officer at J. Walter Thompson Bangkok, one of the institutions that came up with the new ink, says “It also allows embossed printing of non-braille characters and other shapes and patterns. This will open up a new world to people with visual impairment and revolutionize their knowledge accessibility”. The Touchable Ink is created to work with any printer which will not only bring down the cost of making braille, but provide a great solution to the general public who wish to generate their own braille for personal use. A sign of global change in printing outputs to come.
Combining this new printing ink, along with Takahashi’s new typeface, we start to see a brand new world being created for the visually impaired. By allowing innovative design to open up the doors between communication and accessibility, we start to challenge the norm and provide an opportunity for information-equality, albeit in slightly different styles but connected ultimately the same way.
Takahashi is still using feedback on his Braille Neue to continue experimenting with cost-effective printing, perfecting the font before final release. He is hoping his creation will become a standard typeface during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, however I wouldn’t be surprised if we start to see this typeface, along with any other creations, being used well before then.
Senior Finished Artist / Studio Co-ordinator
Images courtesy of Kosuke Takahash and J. Walter Thompson Bangkok.