'Braille Neue' Typeface Combines Touchable Braille With Visible Letters

Anyone gifted with eyes to see, can read any typeface the world has to give. But for the visually impaired, braille is the solution to read.

Braille is a tactile writing system for those who cannot see. Created by French educator and inventor Louis Braille, who lost his sight as a result of a childhood accident, the embossed dots allow those visually impaired to read like normal people do.

But when it comes to the real world of the two, both normal typeface for normal people and braille for the visually impaired, don't go along together.

Braille is like a language encrypted by some sort of unknown code, and it's usually a companion to most people's visual language - an add-on for some situation.

Exploring the limits of typeface design, Tokyo-based designer Kosuke Takahashi has developed Braille Neue, an attempt to merge braille with Latin and Japanese alphabets, so they can appear in the same place.

The project features two main fonts: Braille Neue Standard, which features Latin characters, and Braille Neue Outline, which supports both Latin and Japanese characters.

Braille Neue Standard

To come up with the idea, Takahashi wondered if braille might be something that sighted people could learn to read with their eyes rather than their hands.

"It all started from simple question, ‘How can I read braille?’ ‘Does it become a character if I connect the dots?'" Takahashi said. "Even though it is the same letter, it felt incongruous that sighted people could not read it."

Essentially, Takahashi’s typeface features characters overlaid with their braille equivalents (with the embossed dotted symbols).

But Takahashi's work is not an easy feat.

Braille Neue Ouline

In English alphabet, for example, there are 26 different characters, while in English braille, there are as many as 250 different symbols, with each representing letters, numbers, articles ("a", "an", and "the"), and letter combinations (such as "ed" and "wh").

To develop the Braille Neue typeface, Takahashi altered both English and Japanese characters to conform to the braille grid, based on the Helvetica Neue. Takahashi then tweaking each letter to include braille characters, and the result is a typeface that looks modern and easy to read.

Takahashi 's hope is that the typeface will motivate more braille to be included in public spaces, as its inclusion is usually limited due to space restrictions. This is because his typeface negates the need to accommodate braille text separately.

As most sighted people can't read braille, Braille Neue would allow an easier cross flow of information between the sighted and the visually impaired.