Friday, July 25, 2014

The Moon System of Embossed Reading

A few days ago, we were enjoying an exhibit in the Scottish Parliament building when we came across an interesting new type of writing. The display we were viewing had text written in English and Scottish Gaelic, with Braille beneath it, and a new, mysterious writing system below the Braille. The symbols in the system were quite similar to Latin script, to the extent that you could nearly discern some of the words without looking at the English.

The Scottish Parliament display that piqued our interest.
We were intrigued by this script, debating what it could be. Given the simplicity of the symbols and the fact that they were raised, we came to the conclusion that it must be an alternate writing system for the blind. I thought that perhaps it was designed for people who had lost their sight sometime later in life after learning the alphabet, as the symbols were quite similar to the regular English alphabet. We decided to investigate upon returning home.

It turns out that the mysterious text we came across was the Moon System of Embossed Reading, which is indeed a writing system for the blind. It was created by an Englishman named Dr. William Moon, who lost his sight at age 21 after a terrible bout of scarlet fever. As a teacher of blind children, he came to the conclusion that learning other embossed writing systems like Braille was often difficult for his students, so he decided to create his own simpler system. Moon type was first introduced to the public in 1845, and is made up of raised curves, lines, and angles that are primarily based on Latin script. This makes the system incredibly useful to those who lose their sight later in life, just as I had suspected.

While the Moon system may not be as popular as Braille, it has been helpful to many people over the years. In fact, it can be used to help people who have recently lost their sight and are having trouble learning Braille, as they can gain confidence in their abilities to learn embossed writing through initial use of the Moon system. They can then eventually try to tackle the more difficult task of learning Braille.

Do you or someone you know use the Moon System of Embossed Reading? What do you think of it? Let us know in the comments below.