Austrian graphic designer Anna Weinzettl developed a typeface that enables blind and sighted people to read the same text together. In producing her first book, she and the Estermann print shop had to overcome a number of challenges. The result is a book whose design and technical implementation have been well thought out and brought to paper in all perfection.
The new typeface designed by Anna Weinzettl
translates every single letter of Braille into a printed character. This allows sighted people to read Braille texts together with blind people even without any previous knowledge. The basic idea was to seamlessly integrate Braille into the everyday lives of those affected, the designer explains. "Blind children can use this script to experience that anyone, whether grandparents, siblings or friends, can learn to read with them. Conversely, blind parents can also immerse themselves a bit in their children's world this way."
Weinzettl had the idea for this typeface while still a student. On her way to the Graphische Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt in Vienna, she regularly passed the headquarters of the Austrian Association for the Blind. First, she researched whether a similar project might already be underway. Since this was not the case, she made it the subject of her thesis.
Copyright Photos: © Anna Weinzettl
The first step toward realizing the book came later in the course of a coaching session. There, Weinzettl met a colleague from the printing industry who put her in touch with Estermann Druck. "As an innovative company, we want to constantly develop our service portfolio," explains graduate engineer Norbert Estermann, his interest in the project.
But before it was ready, the graphic designer and the printers had to go through a few extra rounds. The first challenge for Anna Weinzettl was not only to realize a crowdfunding campaign on Startnext to raise the printing costs for the small initial print run of 500 books, but also to make this campaign and all communication for it (website, Facebook, newsletter) accessible.
During production, matching the print images was the most challenging part, Weinzettl reports. "It was a long process in which we gradually increased the quality of the print images and the Braille dots. Since this is a reading and learning book, it was important that the Braille dots be as palpable as possible."
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Norbert Estermann talks about a test phase of around one year, during which the company applied the Braille dots to the paper using inkjet printing with a UV varnish that is not harmful to health. Various coatings were tested, the data constantly adjusted and the font height optimized. In this way, the Braille dots – which lie like small drops on the paper with this technique – are particularly easy to feel. To prevent the dots from cutting into the book pages, Estermann subsequently opted for a layflat binding. An art board (250 g, matt) was used.
One can buy the book at present in the web shop and with the selling partner VIDEBIS. So far, the author can be pleased about an exclusively positive feedback both from blind and from seeing readers over its work. Above all the quality in the total conversion is praised. The Austrian Association of the Blind, for example, described the book as a "special project".
Most important to Anna Weinzettl, however, are the numerous feedbacks that come directly from readers and illustrate their pleasure with the book. As a representative example, she points to the reaction of a blind reader who uses it together with her sighted godchild: "We love this book. The quality is great, the braille is great. Is there more in the works?"
Anna Weinzettl answers this question as follows: "I myself am curious to see how the project will continue. In fact, I already have new concepts in the drawer. What's more, I've founded my own publishing company, so I can also implement works by other authors at any time."