Last night, at its 11th annual National Design Awards gala in New York City, the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum announced this year's People's Design Award winner. Can I get a drum roll please?
After over one hundred designs were nominated and thousands of votes were cast, the Braille Alphabet Bracelet prevailed as the public's favorite. Designed by Leslie Ligon of At First Sight Braille Jewelry, the bracelet has the complete Braille alphabet on the outside and the print alphabet on the inside.
Ligon, whose son is blind, created the jewelry piece to increase the awareness of Braille literacy, the statistics of which are rather shocking. Only 10 percent of the blind population is Braille literate, and yet literacy could be the answer to the high unemployment rate, hovering around 70 percent, among the blind. After all, at least 90 percent of employed, legally blind individuals can read and write Braille. To back the bracelet's statement, Ligon donates a percentage of the profits to Braille literacy organizations, such as National Braille Press and BrailleInk.
As I have mentioned in previous posts, the People's Design Award winner seems to parley the priorities of today's consumer. The voters' social awareness is reflected in other nominees, including the EyeWriter communication device, the SHINEON low-cost LED lamp, the SODIS water disinfecting method, the five-dollar-per-square-foot house and the touch signalization tiles that help blind people at crosswalks.
"I'm delighted that the public has chose to honor the Braille Alpahabet Bracelet, which looks good, communicates without a glance and feels great too!" said Bill Moggridge, director of the museum.