While working to compile more resources for the Graphic Medicine in the Academy page, I came across this article on Vice, highlighting an innovate comic book store for the blind by Robert Kingett. My first thought was about how great an idea that is, but that was immediately quashed by a sense of sadness that it took this long for such an idea to become a reality. Curious, I spent the past hour doing some searching to see what else might be going on with comics for blind folks. The results of that searching are below.
The comic store in question was the first place I visited, known as Comics Empower. The front page immediately lets you know that this page is meant for those without sight – that the store can be heard but not seen. There is a single page made available to explain the concept to those of us with sight – found here. If you are interested in knowing more about the project, I suggest reading the entire page meant for sighed people – you might discover a way to view the rest of the website, which includes information about a recent writing competition, empowerment for children, and more!
Then I found this site that details the creative thinking and process for designing comics for the blind – and an example called Life. It is a profoundly interesting process, but I’ve been unable to find much more information about it – if you are interested, the creator seems open to contact.
More traditionally, these creators are making braille comics and have created a short comic – that fascinatingly seems to work for both blind and signed readers – about World War II. Unfortunately, I don’t speak Polish so I have been unable to find much more information about their work. If you do, check out their Facebook page!
There were dozens more “news” articles that cover more-or-less the same handful of concepts and creators interested in comics for the blind – but there was one last standout, something I had shared with colleagues a month ago: a new language-form, known as Shapereader. From their website:
Shapereader is a repertoire of forms and patterns that constitute an attempt to translate words and meanings into tactile formations.
This work has me (and many others) excited and I can’t wait to see what comes of it – or what hopefully comes of it. At the moment, it looks like both the Polish creators above and the folks at Shapereader are primarily funded by government grants. I suspect in order to remain funded and to grow there will need to be a move into a commercial market soon. I’ll be keep my head to ground for any movement and be sure to post updates as I learn more!
— Microsoft Design (@MicrosoftDesign) July 21, 2016
Do you know of any other projects working to reach a community usually unable to participate in comics? I’d love to know of them! Share with us here or tweet @NoetheMatt!
Note: I have limited knowledge of disability studies – if I have misidentified or misconstrued anything here, please let me know.