Designer's New Typeface Combines Braille With Written Text

Kosuke Takahashi
Kosuke Takahashi

Braille wasn't designed to be seen or heard. For vision-impaired people already fluent in the language, this isn't a problem: Running their fingers across a page or a sign can give them valuable information they wouldn't know otherwise. But for a sighted person interested in learning the language, all those tiny identical dots can look a bit intimidating. Now Co.Design reports that Japanese designer Kosuke Takahashi has reimagined braille as text that's meant to be seen as well as touched.

His typeface, called Braille Neue, has two versions: one for Japanese characters, and one that works for both Japanese and the Roman alphabet. The lines in blue represent the written text. Someone who uses their eyes to read can decipher the meaning of a letter from looking at that component alone. Each character is also marked with one or more black dots; this represents the letter in braille. A vision-impaired person can feel the raised bumps to read it like they normally would, while a sighted person can easily see which braille patterns correspond to which characters.

Braille typeface.
Kosuke Takahashi

Takahashi isn't the first designer to overlay text and braille, and he doesn't plan to be the last. He hopes his project will inspire more people to improve on his project and create braille typefaces of their own. "Through the contribution of increasing the variation of typeface that combine braille with existing characters, I believe we can create an inclusive society where using braille becomes commonplace," Takahashi tells Mental Floss.

Braille Neue is just a concept for now, but Takahashi sees it one day replacing current signs that display braille and text separately. In the short term, he envisions the typeface being used at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

[h/t Co.Design]

Blue Apron’s Memorial Day Sale Will Save You $60 On Your First Three Boxes

Scott Eisen/Getty Images
Scott Eisen/Getty Images

If you’ve gone through all the recipes you had bookmarked on your phone and are now on a first-name basis with the folks at the local pizzeria, it might be time to introduce a new wrinkle into your weekly dinner menu. But instead of buying loads of groceries and cookbooks to make your own meal, you can just subscribe to a service like Blue Apron, which will deliver all the ingredients and instructions you need for a unique dinner.

And if you start your subscription before May 26, you can save $20 on each of your first three weekly boxes from the company. That means that whatever plan you choose—two or four meals a week, vegetarian or the Signature plan—you’ll save $60 in total.

With the company’s Signature plan, you’ll get your choice of meat, fish, and Beyond foods, along with options for diabetes-friendly and Weight Watchers-approved dishes. The vegetarian plan loses the meat, but still allows you to choose from a variety of dishes like General Tso's tofu and black bean flautas.

To get your $60 off, head to the Blue Apron website and click “Redeem Offer” at the top of the page to sign up.

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Sara Little Turnbull, Who Designed the N95 Mask Using a Bra Cup

An N95 mask.
An N95 mask.
RightFramePhotoVideo/iStock via Getty Images

The coronavirus pandemic has made something of a celebrity out of the N95 mask, a particle-filtering face covering that’s long been used to protect wearers from inhaling or exhaling pathogens. (The “95” refers to the fact it can block 95 percent of airborne particles.)

Like most nondescript and pervasive products, not many people stop to think about where it came from. Now, owing to the attention placed on it as a key tool in the health care professional’s fight against coronavirus, the woman behind the mask has come to the forefront. Her name is Sara Little Turnbull, and she designed what would become the N95 based on the shape of a bra cup.

A design consultant, Turnbull was working with the 3M company in 1958 in their gift wrap and fabric division when she was exposed to Shapeen, a non-woven material made of polymers and used for decorative ribbons. Turnbull was fascinated by the molded version of Shapeen and devised the first-ever pre-made bows for gift wrap.

Turnbull didn’t stop there. She saw endless potential in Shapeen and assembled an audience of 3M executives to present a number of ideas she had for products—more than 100 in all. The gathering was brought on by Turnbull’s fascination with a molded material that held its shape. At the presentation, which she titled “Why,” she impressed 3M with the scope of potential for the material. The company quickly enlisted her to work on a design for a molded bra cup.

But Turnbull had another, arguably more important notion. At the time, she was taking care of three ailing family members who were under the care of doctors. Turnbull was often in a medical setting and noticed health care workers were constantly adjusting thin masks that tied in the back. She returned to 3M with the idea of using that same molded material to make a mask that would fit more comfortably on the face.

Again, 3M saw potential in Turnbull’s idea. By 1961, they had patented a lightweight mask based on her concept, with elastic bands instead of strings and a form-fitting shape. It hit the market in 1972 and was suitable for industrial use. As the mask’s filtration evolved, so did its uses. In 1995, the N95 mask was introduced in the health care field.

Though Turnbull had been relegated to a nondescript part of 3M, she had an extensive background in design, graduating from the Parsons School of Design in 1939 and later becoming the decorating editor of House Beautiful magazine. After Turnbull wrote an article taking companies to task for not designing products suitable for the end user, she was hired by 3M. As a consultant, she also collaborated with Corning, Revlon, General Mills, and Ford, among others.

After Turnbull died in 2015, the Sara Little Turnbull Foundation was formed, which supports women in the design field and offers access to Turnbull’s vast library of work. The “Little,” incidentally, was in acknowledgment of her height. At 4 feet, 11 inches tall, Turnbull wasn’t terribly physically imposing. But her contributions were gigantic.

[h/t NPR]