Taxi Hand Signs
There is a unique, beautiful and practical art book, travel companion and memento that tourists to South Africa and South Africans themselves can use and admire. It is the Taxi Hand Sign book, created and researched by fine artist Susan Woolf. In South Africa, if you want to catch a ride on a mini taxi bus, you have to know the correct hand sign to show passing taxis so that the driver can stop for you if he is going in that direction. Most people only know three or four signs, which are the routes they take every day. Before this book existed it was very hard to find out which signs went where; you'd have to ask a designated person at a major taxi rank - if you could find them.
For the past five years Susan Woolf has been researching and documenting the hand signals relating to taxi routes in South Africa. This 10cm by 10cm booklet (which you can slip into your back pocket) contains contains beautifully and playfully rendered taxi hand signs, with a Table of Contents in front that indicates routes and destinations and connects them to the appropriate hand sign. There is also an artfully concealed folding map at the back, which shows routes in Gauteng, Soweto and the Johannesburg CBD, in London Underground fashion. Never before have the hand signs been collated and connected to their routes and never before has there been a map that shows the actual taxi routes - not even the taxi associations have them.
Susan also invented a series of symbols that, when combined in different ways and raised on paper, enable blind people to learn and use the signs themselves, as well as teach them to their sighted children. A book called "Taxi Hand Signs for the Blind" was printed in Braille with the symbols and launched in September 2009.
10 of these hand signs (blind and sighted) were chosen for the 2010 South African National Stamp (pictures attached). These were launched in January and were acknowledged all over the world during the 2010 soccer world cup.