The Braille Alphabet Bracelet Wins the 2010 People’s Design Award

October 15, 2010
News Release

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 Burnoughand 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.

The National Design Awards are made possible in part by Bloomberg and Procter & Gamble. 

Media sponsorship provided by Fast Company and New York magazine. National Design Week is made possible in part by the generous sponsorship of Target.

Professional partners for 2010 National Design Awards and National Design Week include the AIGA | the professional association for design, American Institute of Architects New York Chapter, American Society of Landscape Architects and Industrial Designers Society of America New York City.

About the People’s Design Award

Launched Sept. 20, the People’s Design Award website received more than 100 nominations and thousands of votes. By logging on to, users were able to browse and vote from the existing nominees or upload images to nominate a new object. Nominees included a range of projects with a social mission such as the Neonurture: Car Parts Incubator, Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE), Hello Rewind laptop sleeves and Open IDEO.

The People’s Design Award is part of Cooper-Hewitt’s largest public education initiative, National Design Week, Oct. 9 – Oct. 17. During National Design Week, the museum is offering free admission for all visitors and hosting numerous free design programs. In recognition of the importance of design education, organizations and schools nationwide also will sponsor events during National Design Week. For a complete schedule of National Design Week events, visit

About the National Design Awards

First launched at the White House as a project of the White House Millennium Council, the awards were established to broaden awareness of the role of design in daily life by honoring individuals in all areas of design, as well as its patrons and supporters. The National Design Awards are accompanied each year by a variety of public education programs, including lectures, roundtable discussions and workshops. For more information, please visit

About Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum

The Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum is the only museum in the nation devoted exclusively to historic and contemporary design. The museum presents compelling perspectives on the impact of design on daily life through active educational programs, exhibitions and publications. Founded in 1897, the museum has been a branch of the Smithsonian since 1967.  

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