Kewl Design Alert: A Comic Book For The Blind

Here's something that never occurred to me: are there comic books for the blind?

Turns out that, no, there aren't.

Correction, there weren't. Until now.

A Danish interaction designer (my favourite kind of designer) has come up with an incredibly simple method to convey an equally simple story, and thereby introducing the comic book format to the blind and visually impaired. Sounds simple enough, right? Not at all. There's a lot to this.

The physical design, for instance: The comic is folded and can be read by turning pages or spreading the entire sheet out as a single page which would probably be easier to read. It even includes instructions on how to read it to allow for blind-since-birth readers who would have no concept of the visual-spatial design of a comic book. If you'd never seen one, how else would you learn about the grid format, the across-and-down layout, the speech bubbles? Even the story is very simplistic:

A single circle is born, grows up, meets a mate, has a small circle which itself grows up, moves away, then both partners fade and pass away.
It had to be based in simple concepts since the required drawings had to be easy enough to convey the meaning of the story people who had never actually seen before.

Think about that for a second.

If you've never seen before, then what information would a raised print version of a comic book cell even convey to you through your fingers? The shapes of the characters would have little to no meaning to you. The locations, surroundings, the action. No context for you whatsoever. Not even for the speech bubbles that provide the dialogue. If you were presented with a cell from a standard comic book presented in raised outlines, what context would you glean from feeling the drawings themselves? Likely, none.

The thought process behind this project is astounding, once you start to break it all down.

According to the designer, Philipp Meyer, the design was meant to create a universal experience for sighted and unsighted readers:

These shapes I use now are absolutely the same for sighted and visually impaired; there is no information hidden or more information for either reader.
Check out the images below to see the detail and then head over to FastCo Design for more pics.

Just incredible.

Comic book for the blind
Comic book for the blind: the markings in the frame corners are numbers to show the reading sequence
(Source: FastCo Design)

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