It occurred to me that our craft of cutting is superbly placed to make cards etc for the visually impaired. Not only the blind but those who know that they are or will be losing their sight; those whose sight is failing in one way or another.
Why should they be left out when it comes to special occasions, or 'Thank you' cards, or even cards that just say 'Hello' I'm thinking of you? Maybe you have a friend or colleague you'd like to make a card for but you don't have a Braille slate.
Yes, there are places you can buy such cards but most of us probably don't and they still wouldn't have that very personal touch of being made by you.
So that made me do some research on Braille. Although it looks highly complicated if you see it in sheets of text, Braille is actually a very simple concept. Think of a set of Dominos, only with bumps instead of indents. The 'brick' is known as a 'cell' and each cell has two evenly spaced vertical lines of up to 3 bumps. How many bumps and in what position they are placed, determines what letter of the alphabet is represented. Each letter has it's own pattern. The dots on the left are numbered positions 1-3 (starting at the top) and the right hand row is number 4-6, starting at the top again.
There are other forms of Braille, some use 8 dots, there is a contracted version, like a Braille shorthand, but for sentiments you don't need to go into that.
By now, you may be wondering how you could do this. Well, quite simple really. There are several ways.
You could cut the Braille out in foam or card and use as a stencil. If you flip it over and write the letters from right to left, you can just make indents with an embossing tool or stylus.
If you use it 'right side' up you will need to make marks and then add some dots.
Use 3D glue in the holes to make the dots.
Use small rhinestones or flat backed pearls for the dots. If you are making it for someone who is partially sighted, that would be the best of both worlds, pretty and practical.
If you are going to use it often, you may want to make it into an embossing plate, or if your cutting machine embosses, use that to make the bumps.
I would recommend planning any sentiments on the card first, it takes up more room than written text. Maybe make the card a larger size than you normally would to account for it.
Now, for the rest of the card design, go to town on cut out shapes, layers and textures. Embossing with either your cutter or an embossing machine for patterns. Think with your fingers. Do you have some card that feels really nice. If you are making a cut out of a teddy, do you have some velvet covered paper? Make 3D flowers, leaves, crimp and fold things. Use glitter, 3D glues, heat embossing. All of it will add interest and enjoyment.
If you do this, you'll end up with a card that not only looks good but feels good too and what could be better than that?
To get you started, I have created a Braille alphabet file. It is in SCAL format, please read the notes in the file (go to Window/Project Info)