The Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum presented its fifth People’s Design Award to the Braille Alphabet Bracelet Thursday, Oct. 14, at its 11th annual National Design Awards gala in New York. White House Deputy Social Secretary Ebs Burnough and fashion designer Cynthia Rowley announced the winning design and presented the award to Leslie Ligon, designer of At First Sight Braille Jewelry.
After thousands of votes were cast during the course of the People’s Design Award competition, the Braille Alphabet Bracelet—a bracelet featuring the entire alphabet in Braille on the front and print in the back—emerged as the public’s favorite design.
Ligon, the mother of a blind son, created the line of functional Braille jewelry to increase awareness of Braille literacy. According to the American Foundation for the Blind, as few as 10 percent of people who are legally blind learn to read and write Braille. Several studies indicate that at least 90 percent of the blind that hold jobs are Braille literate. Braille literacy enables the vision impaired to read and write for themselves and is often seen as a gateway to independence. A percentage of the company’s net profits are donated to Braille literacy organizations, including National Braille Press and BrailleInk.
“I’m delighted that the public has chosen to honor the Braille Alphabet Bracelet, which looks good, communicates without a glance and feels great too!” said Bill Moggridge, director of the museum.
Marianne Cusato, designer of the Katrina Cottage, was selected as the first People’s Design Award winner in 2006. Toms Shoes, a company that gives away a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair sold, received the award in 2007, and the Zōn Hearing Aid took home the award in 2008. In 2009, the winner was the Trek Lime Bicycle, a coasting bike designed for the casual rider.