braille bird mobile, photo by Chloé Douglas
A few days ago while browsing Pinterest, I ran across the stunning image (below) of “The Little Prince” in braille. The charm of the original book is in part due to its simplicity. But in braille, it is even more pared down, more evocative of innocence. And yet at the same time, it is also more textured, more sculptural, more dimensional.
Contemplating this and other braille items made me realize how biased those of us with sight can be towards this powerful sense. In effect blinded by our vision, we may overlook how much the other senses – touch, smell, etc. – play a part in how we perceive things. Sight is great, but truly memorable experiences happen in the round, when multiple senses are engaged.
The power of braille then, is that it quite literally invites the touch. Bridging the distance between oneself and the object, it seeks a more intimate encounter, which requires one to be truly present. Opening all the senses; it excites the imagination. Leading to an experience that is all the more fulfilling.
US Atlas for the Blind from 1837, via Kottke
above: vintage Swiss watch with braille, Chapoutier Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine label with braille, Moon Type – the first widely-used practical reading alphabet for the blind, developed in the 1860’s by William Moon