2008-10-27

Blind to the consequences

As I was walking through the city, I realised that a building I've passed quite often contains the head office of that pearl of Swedish social politics, the Swedish Social Insurance Agency. I had missed it before, as the sign on the building is fairly small and unostentatious and in fact what now had drawn my eye was something that literally shouldn't have—the line of Braille below the printed text.
Försäkringskassan, sign
Contemplating this I thought of many things. One thing was that probably the Braille was not intended to actually be read—after all, how many walk around stroking walls to find signs on the off chance that there is a bit of Braille there? Nonetheless, the symbolism is clear: “We're here for everyone.” (that can read Swedish at least).

The other thing was the Braille itself. Now, as I said, the sign itself is pretty inconspicuous, but it could well have been larger. The text is written in a simple sans-serif typeface, indicating simplicity, seriousness, matter-of-factness. For Braille, as far as I know, there aren't really different typefaces, and there is not all that much room for variation in size—each character should fit under a fingertip. I guess it would technically be possible to indicate style, corresponding to italic, boldface, etc, by having the bumps have different profiles—not just hemispheres, but pyramids and hemicubes. I'm not sure how finely graded differences are actually distinguishable, but then again, most sighted readers aren't consciously aware of the distinctions between Times New Roman and Bookman either. There are dynamic Braille displays that can vibrate the needles, presumably the rhythm could be varied for a different feel. Then again, I'm sure the Braille community have come with their own ways of indicating style and character, I wonder how Discworlds novels are rendered in Braille. The audiobooks read by Steven Briggs are of course excellent.

2 comments:

Vakteln said...

Försäkringskassan ägnar sig inte åt fellacio

kai said...

Om du menar att de inte suger så stavas det med t.