Digital talk: the challenge of creating a universal sign-language

Published:  January 13, 2015

European Sign Language Centre (ESC) is a non-profit organisation that have begun documenting all the different sign languages in the world and making them accessible through a digital service, — essentially, a global online dictionary for the hearing impaired. Stockholm’s Kurppa Hosk supported the initiative by creating a visual identity that included specially crafted typography with icons for every letter in the sign-alphabet.

Despite the staggering number of hearing-impaired people in the world, there is no universal sign language. The inspiration for Spread the Sign’s visual identity came from the most essential tool for sign language – the hand.

“The logotype symbol is a play with the hand’s anatomy. Just like fingers take different positions for different signs, the logotype symbol is dynamic and can take on different positions.” Kurppa Hosk also developed a proprietary typography for Spread the Sign. This, as well, was based on the hand; the “octagonal shape of a slightly open fist became the basis for shaping each letter.” The typography also included icons for all the letters in the Swedish sign-language alphabet.

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The studio explain that the brand platform they defined offered a clear direction for Spread the Sign, as the “selected core values were humanistic, action-oriented, and innovative” – which coincidentally, also became important key-words for the basis project. The over-all mission was to ”give everyone the right to a language.” Kurppa Hosk also received a special merit for Spread the Sign’s typography, awarded by the Tokyo Type Directors Club in 2014.

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