The ELIA FRAMES™ font is designed for maximum tactile discrimination by people who have a visual impairment. It is so easy to learn that it can be studied and applied in as little as 2 hours. And because ELIA FRAMES is based on the standard Roman alphabet, it can be read visually by those with full sight (teachers, caregivers or co-workers). 

The ELIA FRAMES™ reading system is designed to be understood by touch for those with a visual impairment but also visually by people who have full sight. This creates a common means of communication, allowing people to share ideas seamlessly.
Kieran Antill, ELIA Design Director

What is ELIA FRAMES?

ELIA FRAMES Tactile Font (ELIA FRAMES™) is the world’s most intuitive tactile reading system. It is designed to be understood by touch for those who have a visual impairment, and by sight for those without.

ELIA FRAMES leverages modern tactile printing technology and design principles to optimize each letter’s design and create easily identifiable characters. Each letter features an outer frame (circle, square, house) and interior elements that suggest the main characteristics of each standard alphabet letter.

We based ELIA FRAMES on the standard (Roman) alphabet because roughly 70% of the world’s population uses it to read and write (reference 1). This means about 200 million people with a visual impairment could benefit from ELIA FRAMES in its current design (reference 2).  And the other 85 million could benefit from it, if customized to their standard scripts.

If Louis Braille re-invented a tactile alphabet today, we believe he wouldn’t have limited his design solely to the use of dots. Braille was invented in 1824, when the most efficient way for a blind person to make a tactile letter was to push a pointed object into a piece of paper.
Andrew Chepaitis, ELIA President/CEO
 
Download symbol. Click red links below to download Elia frames font and Elia learning pad.
 

Practice writing ELIA FRAMES freehand with this free US letter sized download. Every page includes one example of each ELIA FRAMES letter and number followed by blank grids to complete. Please know that this product is not tactile, it is only intended for caregivers and rehabilitation professionals to learn the ELIA FRAMES alphabet.

Image of ELIA FRAMES learning pad. Click above red link to download free PDF of ELIA FRAMES learning US letter pad.

The ELIA FRAMES alphabet explained

Group 1 The first group of letters with circular frames is A through D. Each of these letters has a frame with an opening somewhere in it. This is a distinguishing characteristic of letters A through D.

Group 1

The first group of letters with circular frames is A through D. Each of these letters has a frame with an opening somewhere in it. This is a distinguishing characteristic of letters A through D.

Aa A has a circular frame with an opening in the bottom portion of its frame. It is the only ELIA letter with an opening in the bottom of the frame. Inside the frame, A has a peaked symbol similar to a Roman capital letter A, or an upside down V.

Aa

A has a circular frame with an opening in the bottom portion of its frame. It is the only ELIA letter with an opening in the bottom of the frame. Inside the frame, A has a peaked symbol similar to a Roman capital letter A, or an upside down V.

Bb B has a circular frame with an opening in the right portion of its frame. There are two horizontal lines across its interior, making it look similar to a baseball.

Bb

B has a circular frame with an opening in the right portion of its frame. There are two horizontal lines across its interior, making it look similar to a baseball.

Cc C is a circular letter with an opening in the right portion of its frame, like the Roman letter C. It is similar to the letter B; however, C does not have the two internal horizontal lines. Instead, it has a dot on the upper lip of the opening.

Cc

C is a circular letter with an opening in the right portion of its frame, like the Roman letter C. It is similar to the letter B; however, C does not have the two internal horizontal lines. Instead, it has a dot on the upper lip of the opening.

Dd D has a circular frame with an opening in the left portion of its frame and a vertical line extending from the top of the frame to the bottom. You can trace the Roman capital letter D in this symbol by using the vertical line and the right portion of the circular frame. It is the only ELIA letter with an opening in the left portion of the frame. 

Dd

D has a circular frame with an opening in the left portion of its frame and a vertical line extending from the top of the frame to the bottom. You can trace the Roman capital letter D in this symbol by using the vertical line and the right portion of the circular frame. It is the only ELIA letter with an opening in the left portion of the frame. 

Group 2 The second group of letters, E through N, have square frames. They are the first group of letters with square frames. The letters T though Z also have square frames.

Group 2

The second group of letters, E through N, have square frames. They are the first group of letters with square frames. The letters T though Z also have square frames.

Ee E has a square frame with an interior horizontal line extending from the middle of the left side of its frame to the middle of the right side of its frame. You can trace the Roman capital letter E in this symbol by incorporating the top, left and bottom sides of the frame along with the inside horizontal line.

Ee

E has a square frame with an interior horizontal line extending from the middle of the left side of its frame to the middle of the right side of its frame. You can trace the Roman capital letter E in this symbol by incorporating the top, left and bottom sides of the frame along with the inside horizontal line.

Ff F is similar to E in that it has a square frame with a horizontal line in its interior; however, the interior line in the F is in the top half of its frame, instead of in the middle of the frame as it is in the letter E. This is similar to the Roman capital letter F, which has the majority of its mass in the upper portion of the letter, while the capital E has its mass evenly spaced between the top and bottom. You can trace the Roman capital letter F in this symbol by incorporating the top and left sides of the frame along with the inside horizontal line.

Ff

F is similar to E in that it has a square frame with a horizontal line in its interior; however, the interior line in the F is in the top half of its frame, instead of in the middle of the frame as it is in the letter E. This is similar to the Roman capital letter F, which has the majority of its mass in the upper portion of the letter, while the capital E has its mass evenly spaced between the top and bottom. You can trace the Roman capital letter F in this symbol by incorporating the top and left sides of the frame along with the inside horizontal line.

Gg G has a square frame and a small barb, or tail, inside the middle of the right side of its frame. You can trace the Roman capital letter G in this symbol by finding the barb, tracing down the right side of the frame, across the bottom of the frame, up the left side of the frame, and across the top of the frame from the left corner to the right. 

Gg

G has a square frame and a small barb, or tail, inside the middle of the right side of its frame. You can trace the Roman capital letter G in this symbol by finding the barb, tracing down the right side of the frame, across the bottom of the frame, up the left side of the frame, and across the top of the frame from the left corner to the right. 

Hh H is very similar to the E and F in that it has a square frame with a horizontal line in its interior; however, the interior line in the H is in the bottom half of its frame, instead of the middle of its frame as it is in the letter E, or the top half of its frame as it is in the letter F. This is similar to the Roman lowercase h, which has the majority of its mass in the lower portion of the letter. 

Hh

H is very similar to the E and F in that it has a square frame with a horizontal line in its interior; however, the interior line in the H is in the bottom half of its frame, instead of the middle of its frame as it is in the letter E, or the top half of its frame as it is in the letter F. This is similar to the Roman lowercase h, which has the majority of its mass in the lower portion of the letter. 

Ii I has a square frame with a dot in the middle of it, similar to the Roman lowercase i, which has a dot as the top part of the letter.

Ii

I has a square frame with a dot in the middle of it, similar to the Roman lowercase i, which has a dot as the top part of the letter.

Jj J has a square frame and has a small barb, or tail, on the lower left portion of the inside of its frame. You can trace the Roman capital letter J in this symbol by finding the barb, tracing down the left side of the frame, across the bottom of the frame, up the right side of the frame, and across the top of the frame from the right corner to the left. The letter J is almost the mirror image of the letter G.

Jj

J has a square frame and has a small barb, or tail, on the lower left portion of the inside of its frame. You can trace the Roman capital letter J in this symbol by finding the barb, tracing down the left side of the frame, across the bottom of the frame, up the right side of the frame, and across the top of the frame from the right corner to the left. The letter J is almost the mirror image of the letter G.

Kk K has a square frame and has two legs inside, like a sideways V, extending from the middle of the left side of its frame to the middle of the top and bottom sides of its frame. You can trace the Roman capital letter K using the left side of the frame and the two interior lines.

Kk

K has a square frame and has two legs inside, like a sideways V, extending from the middle of the left side of its frame to the middle of the top and bottom sides of its frame. You can trace the Roman capital letter K using the left side of the frame and the two interior lines.

Ll L has a square frame that is empty. You can trace the Roman capital letter L using the left vertical side and the bottom horizontal side of the frame.

Ll

L has a square frame that is empty. You can trace the Roman capital letter L using the left vertical side and the bottom horizontal side of the frame.

Mm M has a square frame and has a small barb, or tail, inside the middle of the top side of its frame. You can trace the Roman capital letter M in this symbol by tracing from the bottom left corner of the frame to the top, across to the barb, down and up the barb, across to the right corner, and down the right side of the frame to the bottom. The letter M is similar to the letters G and J; they each have a barb on the inside of the frame. 

Mm

M has a square frame and has a small barb, or tail, inside the middle of the top side of its frame. You can trace the Roman capital letter M in this symbol by tracing from the bottom left corner of the frame to the top, across to the barb, down and up the barb, across to the right corner, and down the right side of the frame to the bottom. The letter M is similar to the letters G and J; they each have a barb on the inside of the frame. 

Nn N has a square frame with a diagonal line extending from the upper left corner of its frame to the bottom right corner of its frame. You can trace the Roman capital letter N in this symbol by incorporating the left and right sides of the frame with the inside diagonal line.

Nn

N has a square frame with a diagonal line extending from the upper left corner of its frame to the bottom right corner of its frame. You can trace the Roman capital letter N in this symbol by incorporating the left and right sides of the frame with the inside diagonal line.

Group 3 The second group of letters with circular frames is O through S. All of these letters have a closed circular frame.

Group 3

The second group of letters with circular frames is O through S. All of these letters have a closed circular frame.

Oo O is a circular letter and is the same as a Roman capital letter O. 

Oo

O is a circular letter and is the same as a Roman capital letter O. 

Pp P has a circular frame and a single horizontal line across its middle (versus the letter B which has two lines and an opening in the right side of its frame.) 

Pp

P has a circular frame and a single horizontal line across its middle (versus the letter B which has two lines and an opening in the right side of its frame.) 

Qq Q is a circular letter with a barb, or tail, in the lower right portion of its circular frame, much like a Roman capital letter Q.

Qq

Q is a circular letter with a barb, or tail, in the lower right portion of its circular frame, much like a Roman capital letter Q.

Rr R has a circular frame. Its major feature is taken from the bottom part of the Roman capital letter R, and is a diagonal line extending from the upper left portion to the lower right portion of its frame. It also has a small dot in the upper right portion of its interior.

Rr

R has a circular frame. Its major feature is taken from the bottom part of the Roman capital letter R, and is a diagonal line extending from the upper left portion to the lower right portion of its frame. It also has a small dot in the upper right portion of its interior.

Ss S has circular frame with a dot in the middle of it. S is similar to I in its interior, but S has a circular frame and I has a square frame.

Ss

S has circular frame with a dot in the middle of it. S is similar to I in its interior, but S has a circular frame and I has a square frame.

Group 4 The second group of letters with square frames is T though Z. In all of these symbols, except for the Y, you can trace the Roman capital letter somewhere in the symbol.

Group 4

The second group of letters with square frames is T though Z. In all of these symbols, except for the Y, you can trace the Roman capital letter somewhere in the symbol.

Tt T has a square frame with a vertical line extending from the middle of the top of its frame to the middle of the bottom of its frame. You can trace the Roman capital letter T in this symbol by incorporating the top part of the frame along with the inside vertical line.

Tt

T has a square frame with a vertical line extending from the middle of the top of its frame to the middle of the bottom of its frame. You can trace the Roman capital letter T in this symbol by incorporating the top part of the frame along with the inside vertical line.

Uu U has a square frame with a diagonal line extending from the middle of the bottom of its frame to the middle of the right side of its frame. You can trace the Roman capital letter U in this symbol by incorporating the left, bottom and right parts of the frame along with the inside diagonal line. The diagonal line inside has a jagged edge, much like stairs that ascend to the right.

Uu

U has a square frame with a diagonal line extending from the middle of the bottom of its frame to the middle of the right side of its frame. You can trace the Roman capital letter U in this symbol by incorporating the left, bottom and right parts of the frame along with the inside diagonal line. The diagonal line inside has a jagged edge, much like stairs that ascend to the right.

Vv V has a square frame in which two diagonal lines extend from the middle of the bottom of its frame to the middle of the right and left sides of its frame. You can trace the Roman capital letter V in this symbol by using the diagonal lines.

Vv

V has a square frame in which two diagonal lines extend from the middle of the bottom of its frame to the middle of the right and left sides of its frame. You can trace the Roman capital letter V in this symbol by using the diagonal lines.

Ww W has a square frame and has a small barb, or tail, inside the middle of the bottom part of the frame. You can trace the Roman capital letter W in this symbol by tracing from the top left corner to the bottom of the frame, across to the barb, up and down the barb, across to the right corner, and up the right side of the frame to the top. The letter W is similar to the letters M, G and J; they each have a barb on the inside of their square frame.

Ww

W has a square frame and has a small barb, or tail, inside the middle of the bottom part of the frame. You can trace the Roman capital letter W in this symbol by tracing from the top left corner to the bottom of the frame, across to the barb, up and down the barb, across to the right corner, and up the right side of the frame to the top. The letter W is similar to the letters M, G and J; they each have a barb on the inside of their square frame.

Xx X has a square frame with two diagonal lines inside the frame, each extending from one corner of the top of its frame to the opposite bottom corner, like a Roman letter X.

Xx

X has a square frame with two diagonal lines inside the frame, each extending from one corner of the top of its frame to the opposite bottom corner, like a Roman letter X.

Yy Y has a square frame with two dots inside. One of the dots is in the top left corner; the other dot is in the top right corner.

Yy

Y has a square frame with two dots inside. One of the dots is in the top left corner; the other dot is in the top right corner.

Zz Z has a square frame with a diagonal line extending from the top right corner of its frame to the bottom left corner of its frame. You can trace the Roman capital letter Z in this symbol by incorporating the top and bottom parts of the frame and the inside diagonal line. 

Zz

Z has a square frame with a diagonal line extending from the top right corner of its frame to the bottom left corner of its frame. You can trace the Roman capital letter Z in this symbol by incorporating the top and bottom parts of the frame and the inside diagonal line. 

 

Counting with ELIA FRAMES™

The house frame is scientifically designed to be discernible to the touch between the square and circle frames found on letters.

Numbers 0 -10 ELIA FRAMES Numbers all have a house shaped frame. The frame looks like a home plate on a baseball field.

Numbers 0 -10

ELIA FRAMES Numbers all have a house shaped frame. The frame looks like a home plate on a baseball field.

0 Zero is an empty house shaped frame.

0

Zero is an empty house shaped frame.

1 One has a small barb, or tail in the top of the frame. A number one can be traced using the barb and the right side of the frame.

1

One has a small barb, or tail in the top of the frame. A number one can be traced using the barb and the right side of the frame.

2 The number two has two dots inside.

2

The number two has two dots inside.

3 The number three has a barb on the right side of the frame. It looks like a three and the barb is located where the three would be on the clock.

3

The number three has a barb on the right side of the frame. It looks like a three and the barb is located where the three would be on the clock.

4 The four has two lines inside, one extending from the top of the frame to the bottom, and one extending from the middle of this interior line to the left side of the frame. A number four can be traced using the interior lines and the upper left portion of the frame.

4

The four has two lines inside, one extending from the top of the frame to the bottom, and one extending from the middle of this interior line to the left side of the frame. A number four can be traced using the interior lines and the upper left portion of the frame.

5 The number five has a horizontal line extending from the left side of the frame to the right side. A number five can be traced in this symbol and the line is positioned halfway between the top and bottom of the frame, as five is halfway to ten.

5

The number five has a horizontal line extending from the left side of the frame to the right side. A number five can be traced in this symbol and the line is positioned halfway between the top and bottom of the frame, as five is halfway to ten.

6 The number six has a barb in the bottom of the frame, right where you would find the number six on a clock.

6

The number six has a barb in the bottom of the frame, right where you would find the number six on a clock.

7 The number seven has a diagonal line extending from the bottom left corner up to the top right portion of the frame. The number seven can be traced in this symbol using the line and the frame.

7

The number seven has a diagonal line extending from the bottom left corner up to the top right portion of the frame. The number seven can be traced in this symbol using the line and the frame.

8 The number eight has an x in the inside and the number eight can be traced using this x and the outside frame.

8

The number eight has an x in the inside and the number eight can be traced using this x and the outside frame.

9 The number nine has a barb where you would find the number nine on the clock.

9

The number nine has a barb where you would find the number nine on the clock.

10 Single numbers can be placed together to create larger one as with regular numerals.

10

Single numbers can be placed together to create larger one as with regular numerals.

We have gone to great lengths testing and refining ELIA FRAMES to maximize its learnability. Over 200,000 test subject responses were collected and analyzed. The key design principle that was applied, in order to leverage a person’s finger sensitivity, was to make each character’s design simple but unique, and to space each letter’s features far apart enough that they can be easily recognized.
Reed DeWinter, ELIA Industrial designer

The pros and cons of the current braille system.

Braille has been described as “liberating a whole class of people from a condition of illiteracy and dependency and giving them the means for self-fulfillment and enrichment (Reference 4).” We couldn’t agree more. It is extremely important for those who can read it. For example, people who are able to read braille have an employment rate of 90%.

Unfortunately, less than 1% of those who have a visual impairment can read braille. And, of those who lose their vision as adults (roughly 98% of the population), very few learn it. So braille is not a resource for the vast majority of those who have lost their vision.

Braille requires exceptional finger sensitivity and intellect, along with a lot of determination and time, because it was designed to be used with the technology of the 1800’s. Unfortunately, this means it is not intuitive or easy to feel. Today there are many commercial resources for creating tactile symbols at low cost. We hope to make those resources even more accessible in the home and the workplace.

 

The key to increasing literacy amongst people who have a visual impairment is increasing the rate at which a tactile language can be absorbed. It can take 12 months to learn the braille alphabet well enough to recognize common household words. ELIA FRAMES can be learned and applied in as little as 2 to 3 hours.
Monique Alofs, ELIA Usability Specialist
 

What are the implications of ELIA FRAMES?

Because ELIA FRAMES is easy to learn, it will be less expensive and require less time to teach. Consider that an estimated 90% of the world’s visually impaired population live in low-income settings (Reference 1). ELIA FRAMES could create more opportunities for this population to gain fuller education, employment and independence, with fewer resources.

What about audio and text to speech technology?

A common question is about the use of audio learning and text to speech technology: “Can’t that replace the need for a tactile reading system?” The National Federation of the Blind rightly put it: “Literacy is the ability to read and write. While using speech output and recorded books is a way for students to gain information, it does not teach them reading and writing skills. Students who rely solely on listening as a means of learning find themselves deficient in areas like spelling and composition.”


References

  1. Latin Script. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved May, 2015, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latin_script. 
  2. World Health Organization, 2014. Visual impairment and blindness [Fact Sheet No. 282]. Retrieved from www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs282/en/
  3. Nemeth, A. (1988), Braille: The Agony and the Ecstasy, The Braille Monitor, 324-328.