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'Life': A comic book for the blind

A design student creates a graphic novel for the sight-impaired that tells a simple story through touch.

Philipp Meyer

Although the invention of the Braille system means the blind have access to the printed word, one printed medium, based as it is in visual storytelling, is impossible to enjoy without seeing it: the comic book. At least until Philipp Meyer, a design student at the University of Applied Sciences in Potsdam, Germany, got involved.

His idea was twofold: create a story that's as graphically simplified as possible, and realize it in a way that is equally explorable to both the sighted and the blind. Thus was born Life: a simple tale told using only circles of varying textures to describe a single life cycle.

To get started, Meyer created a digital version of the layout in comic-book panels and sent it to friends to find out if they could ascertain what was happening on the pages. When they had no trouble connecting the panels to the title of the comic, Meyer, with some help from Danish reading-assistance institute Nota, moved onto blind readers.

Although his first reader, Michael, had no difficulty understanding the story, others did, so Meyer went on to create further refinements, tweaking the textures of his circles to make them more identifiable as individuals.

The digital version of the book. Philipp Meyer

One circle, for example, is just a ring, while the other's texture become less pronounced toward the center, creating a softer sensation. The "child" is a mix of the two: one half just a circumference, the other a gradual fade.

"This project was definitely the most challenging I ever did -- yet the most rewarding as well," Meyer said on his Web page. "I will never forget the day when Michael read the tactile comic for the first time, experiencing a medium that did not exist in this form before. On that day I realized that it is possible to tell a story -- without ink, text, or sound -- that comes to life through imagination."

Although Meyer is careful to point out that his project is only an experiment (read more about the project in this PDF), and although there may be some limitations involved in telling a story only through circles, Life has some definite possibilities for further exploration. We certainly hope that someone decides to find out what they are.

Philipp Meyer

(Source: Crave Australia)