Comics: making comics for the visually impaired

Published On June 11, 2013 | By Joe Gordon | Books, Comics

This is a fascinating article on Humans Invent, detailing Philipp Meyer, currently studying Interaction Design at Potsdam University of Applied Sciences, and his attempts to create a form of comic, Life, that could be enjoyed by readers with visual impairment or total blindness. It’s a fascinating idea – obviously for books blind people can use Braille and audio, which works for words, but how do you adapt a primarily visual medium for someone with no sight? And not as a description of the scenes but as actual pictures but in a way the blind reader can sense?

It was very challenging. I had many breakdowns during the whole process because it was so difficult to come up with an appropriate representation of the comic medium. I didn’t want to just translate normal comics into embossed images; that didn’t seem adequate to me because a blind person perceives the world differently… I tried to make it so people could understand the theme of the story through the title, which is Life, in which a person grows up, another person comes into his life, they have intercourse, have a child, then the child leaves home etc,” Meyer speaking to Humans Invent.

life comic for the blind phillip meyer

Meyer used very simple graphics – circles mostly – to tell a simple tale that could be understood visually by sighted people but also used an embossing technique similar to Braille so a blind person could also follow the ‘visual’ side of the story, with perforations between panels so the blind reader knows when they move from panel to panel. As a lifelong reader I’m always happy to see any way someone can make books and comics accessible to anyone, and this has to be one of the more unusual methods I’ve come across. Meyer isn’t sure if he will develop the idea any further, but does hope others may feel inspired by the idea and want to push explore it. We always like to think comics are for everyone, how nice to see someone putting that into practise. (tip of the hat to Team Girl Comic for the link)

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About The Author

Joe Gordon
Joe Gordon is ForbiddenPlanet.co.uk's chief blogger, which he set up in 2005. Previously, he was professional bookseller for over 12 years as well as a lifelong reader and reviewer, especially of comics and science fiction works.

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