Braille Dingbats, an emoticon addition to the Braille alphabet in a 9-dots grid.

Braille Dingbats – overview slightly smiling face © Walda Verbaenen

Braille meets emoticons is a Dingbats extension for Braille, called ‘Braille Dingbats’, where braille meets emoticons.
Happy, enthusiastic, sad,… Emoticon images, universal images, used by people who can see, and therefore immediately can show in one character how they feel.
But what about people who can see poorly or not? People who are using the Braille language are forced to use the alphabet to describe their emotions. This insight became a starting point to design an addition to the Braille alphabet, based on our emoticons, converted into a ‘dot’ language that characterizes Braille. This typographical experiment tries to build a bridge to visual language for the visually impaired.

This idea started at Routine Archive, whereby Carl Haase (Zero Desk), lecturer and Researcher at  PXL MAD, asked me to think about different aspects within his  ‘Mother of all’ (MOA) platform ‘World without words’. 

The Braille alphabet is built within a grid of 6 dots, Braille numbers are fitting in a 12 dots-grid.
‘Braille Dingbats’ is based on a grid of 9 dots.

The letters of the well-known Braille alphabet consist of 6 dots, while the numbers are built in a grid of 12 dots. To avoid confusion when reading, this emoticon addition to the Braille alphabet is developed in a grid of 9 dots, that is fitting very well with the square structure of the emoticon symbols, and is logically structured. 

This Braille Dingbats alphabet has two versions: 

  1. Braille meets emoticons
    Extended version of Braille, where braille meets emoticons, visualizing the most common 22 emoticons for the visually impaired people.
  2. Braille meets the alphabet
    26 letters and 10 numbers of the Latin alphabet which are fitting into the same structure of this 9-dot grid.

The project consists of an animation, a set of posters, a booklet (15 x 15 cm, 244 pages) and an embossed booklet. Both booklets are for the moment only available as a prototype.

22 of the most common emoticons are translated into this ‘new’ Braille grid.

Braille dingbats – poster with 22 emoticons © Walda Verbaenen
Braille dingbats – poster with overview alphabet © Walda Verbaenen
Cover booklet ‘When Braille meets emoticons’ © 2021 Walda Verbaenen
Booklet 244 pages (Prototype) ‘When Braille meets emoticons’ © 2021 Walda Verbaenen
Two pages of embossed booklet (Prototype) ‘When Braille meets emoticons’ © 2021 Walda Verbaenen