This Typeface Turns “Refugees” Into Real People Again

Refugee. It’s a word a lot like “victim” or even “disabled”: it’s both hyper-specific and completely vague at the same time, creating a totally convenient, completely socially acceptable (and often unintentional) way to pigeonhole people in various life-altering circumstances.

And so, as the word washes over you again and again, you stop to see the truth–like the 60 million people who are stranded from their home countries–and start to simply see a figure that’s a lot more convenient to quantify. While there are a record number of “refugees” in the world, it can be hard to see the people.

CommonSans is a response to this desensitization. A collaboration between the design agency Essen International and nonprofit Solvatten, CommonSans is a typeface that automatically replaces the word “refugee” with “human” whenever you type the word.

“This was an issue close to us and we wanted people to stop and think about the words they use. To think beyond the words migrant, foreigner, refugee,” explains the project’s page. “Together, we wanted to emphasize that being a refugee was a temporary status, but being human was permanent.”

If you like the project, you can subject yourself to its editing feature by downloading the typeface here. You can also support the organizations involved by making a donation.