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Visible Speech is not part of the Unicode Standard. However the ConScript Unicode Registry (CSUR) has defined a range of the Unicode Private Use Area for Visible Speech. CSUR coordinates artificial/constructed scripts (mostly), which facilitates font development and interoperability.

Visible Speech is a writing system developed by Alexander Melville Bell in 1867. This phonetic alphabet was used in America in the 1800s to help deaf children learn spoken language. The components of the symbols convey information about the sound to be produced. Because of that, Visible Speech is categorized as an "iconic notation".

In 1880 Henry Sweet, a former pupil of Bell's, published an updated version called the "Revised Organic Alphabet". His changes were based in part on years of practical use of Bell's original system. In Britain, Sweet's version became preferred. Sweet was a supporter of the FTA (Dhi Fonètik Tîcerz' Asóciécon) which evolved into the International Phonetic Association.

The ConScript Unicode Registry definition covers only the majority of symbols for Bell's original Visible Speech, not the Revised Organic Alphabet

Work is being done on an official proposal for adding all of the characters needed for both Visible Speech and the Revised Organic Alphabet to Unicode Plane 1.

Font Samples

font sample * font information
Sample of Teamouse VS at 24pt Teamouse VS    [ show all samples ]  (tmousevs.ttf)
Source: Free download via FTP from Herman Miller.
Stats: Version 3/11/2001 has 595 glyphs and 472 kerning pairs
Support: Latin, Visible Speech
Sample of VSMeta-PUA at 22pt VSMeta-PUA    [ show all samples ]  (VSMetaPlain-PUA.ttf)
Note: Additional samples are available for this font.
Source: Free download from Mark E. Shoulson's website.
Stats: Version 4/4/98 has 221 glyphs and no kerning pairs
Support: Visible Speech

Additional Information About These Font Samples

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This page was last updated on 2006-01-22