Exploring the limits of type design, Tokyo-based designer Kosuke Takahashi has developed Braille Neue, an attempt to combine Braille with the English and Japanese alphabets.
Photo: Kosuke Takahashi
This is no easy feat. There are, for example, 26 different characters in the English alphabet, while in English Braille, there are as many as 250 different symbols, representing letters, numbers, articles (“a”, “an” and “the”), and letter combinations (such as “ed” and “wh”).
To develop the Braille Neue typeface, Takahashi altered English and Japanese characters to conform to the Braille grid, and the result is a design that’s futuristic and rigid, yet mostly easy to read, save for a few letters that required some extra contortions, including the “i”.
Takahashi created two variations of Braille Neue, a Standard version that’s English-only, and an Outline version for both English and Japanese. “Our aim is to use this universal typeset for [the] Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics 2020 to create a truly universal space where anyone can access information,” said Takahashi on his site. “We aim for an inclusive society where using braille becomes commonplace.”
While this idea has been tried before, as Fast Company points out, the project poses potential as a way to direct more attention towards Braille, for which literacy continues to decline amid the rise of computers, smartphones, text-to-speech tech and voice-based assistants.
This “work in progress” is sadly not yet available as a downloadable font, but more information can be found here.