Shapereader is a repertoire of forms and patterns that constitutes a coherent attempt to translate images and meanings into tactile formations. Shapereader is an experimental approach to graphic novel storytelling, and its purpose is to ‘translate’ graphic novels for visually impaired readers.
The first comic book created with the Shapereader repertoire is Ilan Manouach’s 30-page graphic novel, Arctic Circle, which is available in Finnish and English. The graphic novel combines Braille and 210 tactile images, which together form a multidimensional and tactile package. Six separate hand-held communication boards help the reader navigate within the story. These boards contain the most important matters in the graphic novel: characters, the characters’ actions and feelings, the story’s structure and elements, etc.
Manouach is also currently planning Shapereader Community Workshops for the summer 2015, which are intended for both visually impaired and sighted people. The workshops include short periods of work which are held in a dark space. The purpose of the workshops is to encourage participants to create their own story.
In 2013 the prototypes for Shapereader and the Arctic Circle graphic novel were awarded the Kone Foundation Multilingualism and Art project grant.