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Moon type
October 8, 2005 2:12 PM   Subscribe

Moon type, an embossed typeface invented by Englishman William Moon in the middle 1840s, seemed to have won the fight to bring reading to the blind. Online Moon type generator here. It was based on simplified Roman text, was easy to use by all, and once enjoyed the status as the most popular embossed typeface in the world (failed night writing system withstanding). Until Louis Braille developed his system, that is.
posted by luckypozzo (21 comments total)

 
Reminds me of the alphabets from Commander Keen.
posted by TwelveTwo at 2:16 PM on October 8, 2005


How funny, lucky -- I nearly made an FPP about this myself last week. Good work.
posted by digaman at 2:26 PM on October 8, 2005


"The Moon alphabet is easier to learn than Braille, particularly for people who loose their sight in later life."

Loose?

LOSE.

Jesus wept.
posted by parki at 2:33 PM on October 8, 2005


Jesus weeps over spelling errors? He has WAY too much time on his hands...
posted by HuronBob at 3:01 PM on October 8, 2005


It is spelled that way by "Omniglot a guide to written language". Some guide. Interesting topic all the same. Too bad Omniglot is a bunch of loosers.
posted by Eekacat at 3:32 PM on October 8, 2005


Fascinating post, luckypozzo.
posted by interrobang at 4:35 PM on October 8, 2005


Moon looks similar to syllabic Ojibwe and Inuktitut. Wonder if they're related, alphabet-developmentwise.
posted by spinifex23 at 5:22 PM on October 8, 2005


Interesting that one reason Braille is better is because you can write it with just a pointy stick, while this system requires a printing press.
posted by smackfu at 6:09 PM on October 8, 2005


Jesus weeps over spelling errors? He has WAY too much time on his hands...

He's just hanging around.
posted by eriko at 6:43 PM on October 8, 2005


That Jesus, always weeping.
posted by TwelveTwo at 6:46 PM on October 8, 2005


He's just hanging around.

Arching his back and howling at the moon every time George W. invokes his name.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 6:47 PM on October 8, 2005


Since my last name is Moon, I'm kind of extra excited about this.
posted by Miko at 7:36 PM on October 8, 2005


Interesting that one reason Braille is better is because you can write it with just a pointy stick, while this system requires a printing press.

Or a typewriter.
posted by oneirodynia at 8:16 PM on October 8, 2005


It's hard to believe that I've never heard of any of this -- including the fascinating bit about night writing, a beautiful phrase. Now I'm wondering how blind people fared with reading prior to the mid-19th century. Is it known whether anyone else attempted this before Moon did? Your third link would suggest so, but it honestly surprises me that given the number of brilliant and ambitious printers in 16th century Europe no one else even made the effort. I suppose it shouldn't.

Anyway, thanks for the very interesting post. It's exactly the sort of thing I always hope to find here.
posted by melissa may at 9:38 PM on October 8, 2005


Cool post. I never heard of this. It does seem like an interesting alternative. Thanks, luckypozzo.
posted by soyjoy at 10:02 PM on October 8, 2005


Oh yeah, but: When you're writing about something as precise as the preferability of one form of communication over another, you really want to avoid utter bonehead spelling errors.
posted by soyjoy at 10:03 PM on October 8, 2005


Nice! I looked for a moon truetype, but the links to the one at the RNIB seem to be down, and i apparently haven't eaten enough gofu of late. Can anyone else track one down? I have a strange urge to try programming in Moon for a week or two...
posted by Jon Mitchell at 10:15 PM on October 8, 2005


Or a typewriter.

A dot matrix printer can do either. 24 pins should be sufficient to produce the shapes of the moon type, and it doesn't seem like a very difficult engineering feat to build one that can emboss, in the very unlikely event that it hasn't long since been done.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:04 PM on October 8, 2005


I can't locate any Moon type fonts. Check this web site for tons of Braille fonts.
posted by luckypozzo at 11:25 PM on October 8, 2005


Interesting that one reason Braille is better is because you can write it with just a pointy stick, while this system requires a printing press.
--
Or a typewriter.

--

One of the big advantages of Braille is it can be written with a stylus--a simple, small, cheap item that's basically the Braille equivalent of a ball-point pen.

You can carry it around with you all the time and do things like take notes in class or make a shopping list.

Writing Braille with a slate and stylus compares to writing print with a pen and pencil. The stylus is used to push dots down through the paper, while the slate serves as a guide. The Braille slate can be made of metal or plastic and is hinged so that there is a guide under the paper and on top of it. . . . The speed of writing Braille with the slate and stylus is about the same as the speed of writing print with pen or pencil. (NFB web site.)

Incidentally, New York Point is another system that competed with Braille. The New York Institute for Special Education has a fascinating article about the "War of the Dots", in which advocates for the Braille system and for New York Point duked it out (sometimes quite literally) for supremacy in America.
posted by flug at 11:50 PM on October 8, 2005


One potential advantage for Moon is that it tends to have large characters, which is useful for the majority of blind people since they have become blind because of age-related problems and have limited tactile acuity. This is a disadvantage as well, of course, in that Moon materials are even bulkier and more expensive than Braille materials.
posted by alasdair at 5:49 AM on October 10, 2005


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