Emojis for the blind? A type designer is meticulously translating popular emojis into Braille

While the idea of emojis was originally to promote visual texting, its drawback remains the fact that its visual nature makes it inaccessible to the vision impaired. To help overcome this barrier, type designer and PhD student at Belgium’s MAD School of Arts, Walda Verbaenen took it upon herself to redesign popular emoticons in Braille. The project, titled “Braille Emoticons” proposes the addition of 22 different symbols or emojis to the Braille alphabet, comprising everything from the various smileys to thumbs up and thumbs down, and even the heart emoji.

“People who use Braille are forced to use the letters of the alphabet to describe their emotions”, Walda mentions. “This became a starting point to design an addition to the Braille alphabet, based on our visualized emotions into emoticons, converted into the ‘dot’ language that characterizes Braille.” To ensure it doesn’t conflict with the traditional braille alphabet of a grid of 12 dots, the emoticon addition to the Braille alphabet was developed in a grid of 9 dots, fitting well with the square structure of the emoticon symbols.

Designer: Walda Verbaenen