24 February 2024
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Wooden plates showing laser-cut lines, curves, ziz-zag lines, and everything in-between brings into relief definitive 3D shapes and structures. The dots and squares rise and fall. This is not design overkill – these are intricately designed plates called tactigrams.

Tactigrams are tactile ideograms that provide equivalents for the features of a story. Fifty-seven such plates accompanied by braille text comprise Arctic Circle by Ilan Manouach, a Belgian conceptual comics artist. Written in English, Arctic Circle trades the conventions of comics for an artificially constructed language called Shapereader to tell the story of two climatologists’ experience in the North Pole.

Sir Alfred Cook, one of the protagonists of Arctic Circle, is a series of horizontal stripes. Based on tactile and haptic interactions, Shapereader actualises the verbo-visual aspects of comics. Arctic Circle is one among the several comics that are meeting the demands for more accessibility in comics. On this path, comics have found an ally in technology to improve inclusion and diversity.

Advancing accessibility

Comics are a visually intense medium marrying image and text. For persons with disabilities – such as the blind, the motor-impaired, and those with difficulties reading print, comics are normally inaccessible.

To tackle this, a vivid description of a panel or of the entire comic book is provided as an alternative…

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Abdul Gh Lone