We all know that Braille exists but many of us don’t know what it says – so we’re introducing Braille Neue. Braille Neue is a universal typeface that combines Braille with existing characters, created by Japanese designer, Kosuke Takahashi. Takahashi tells Emma Jones why he invented Braille Neue – and how its implementation can create a more inclusive society…
2019 statistics from the World Health Organisation tell is that over 2.2 billion people globally are blind or visually impaired, and that number is expected to increase. In spite of this, we rarely see Braille implemented in public spaces – making gathering information and getting from A to B difficult for those who read by touch.
Braille Neue addresses these issues. The typeface combines Braille with existing characters so it can be read and understood by both the blind and sighted, creating inclusivity in the environment. The use of Braille Neue in public spaces not only creates mutual understanding but also forms interaction between the sighted and the blind. “When I tested this typeface at some events, I saw conversations between visually impaired and sighted people, triggered by this typeface. I believe that by using this common tool we will create encounters that have never happened before,” says Braille Neue designer, Kosuke Takahashi.
Alongside Braille Neue Standard, which is used with the Latin alphabet, Kosuke also developed Braille Neue Outline to be used with Japanese characters – making the typesets accessible for both Japanese and English readers. Braille Neue can be implemented into existing infrastructures by adjusting the kerning of the typeface and overwriting original signage, making it easy and affordable for businesses and venues to add.
"We try to protect the regulation of the size and location of the Braille so that it can be shared by both the sighted and the visually impaired, but we may also use it with a large sign to educate sighted people about Braille”
Kosuke also often implements large Braille signage in public spaces. Although this is not useful for visually impaired people, it is significant for helping sighted people to understand blind culture and get acquainted with the Braille code, highlighting the educational aspects of the typesets. “We try to protect the regulation of the size and location of the Braille so that it can be shared by both the sighted and the visually impaired, but we may also use it with a large sign to educate sighted people about Braille,” he says.
Despite Braille being invented in 1824, it’s the Braille Neue typesets that have integrated the experiences of the visually impaired and the sighted. The typefaces have already been implemented in several public facilities including Shibuya City Office in Tokyo and Rikuzentakata City Office, as well as added to the Japan offices of Panasonic and Dentsu. Further to this, Kosuke has collaborated with fashion brands to develop and launch haptic fashion products. The more implementation of Braille Neue globally, the more inclusive our world can be.