Saturday, Dec 15, 2012

Surprisingly of the 340 million people worldwide who are blind, 90% can actually see light. So why don’t any of the signage for blind people incorporate light? if 90% can see light, wouldn’t it be great to use light to focus vision impaired people’s attention and direct them to the right area, and light up important signs?

Rob Caslick, of Medland Metropolis, in his time off had been considering these ideas for a while but has now actually done something about it. Rob, with some assistance of sponsors, has created CBraille, transforming a worldwide problem and need with a simple solution; making illuminated Braille with LEDs.


CBraille was launched this year at Melbourne’s Winter Lights exhibition, and was received with great excitement from Blind institute, the design and lighting community, and the general public. A shipping container was transformed in to a darken space, illuminated only via quotes from blind people written in CBraille.  The text was also written in  English for the Braille illiterate to read. One of my favourite quotes is:


“Some people ask me the dumbest things. This one guy asked me if I was married and how I managed to make love to my wife. So I told him bring me your wife and I will show you”, Alvaro Vega.


Winning best exhibition of the event, as well as the 2012 Melbourne Design Awards – for Best Installation, Cbraille also travelled to Sydney as part of Vivid festival.


Apart from the accolades by the design community, the most enriching and rewarding for Rob and his team, were the reactions of the visually impaired people as they interacted with the exhibition. One young Melbourne boy, Thian, whilst visiting the exhibition, was able to read with his eyes, for the very first time in his life! Such a simple act which we take for granted changed his life forever. Cbraille has also given many other blind people hope and encouragement that soon they will be able to use their limited eye sight in the public domain in the very same way people who can “see” are able to.


Taking the concept of illuminated signage for the blind to another level, Rob has created cSigns, standard signs such as W/C, Exits, room numbers etc, that are also illuminated. He has introduced some colour coding as well to further assist the users with recognizing and identifying the signs. These can easily be extended to hospital and aged care facilities where the occupant’s eyesight would be quite diminished.


Hopefully Cbraille and Csign will be utilised as a standard throughout the world, and bring light and a new kind of life to over some 300 million people.


text : Siobhan McNabb