Friday, December 2, 2011

Braille-It Labeler brings low-cost printing, 'sightless construction' to the blind -- Engadget

It's certainly not the first Braille label printer we've seen, but Ted Moallem's Braille-It Labeler does bring notably unique element to the table -- namely, "sightless construction." Presented at this year's A Better World by Design conference, this compact device allows blind or visually impaired users to print out adhesive labels in Braille, thanks to a simple six-button design that's compatible with any Braille alphabet. Made out of relatively common materials like aluminum and steel wire, the Braille-It can also be constructed by the blind themselves -- a potentially groundbreaking development for a demographic that's too often ignored by the retail sector. Moallem, a former MIT grad student, explains:
Blind people cannot depend on mainstream commercial forces to advance the cause of Braille literacy. Nearly two centuries after the invention of Braille by a blind adolescent boy, the most widely used Braille-writing tools, the slate and stylus, are quite similar to the tools used by Louis Braille himself. In the hands of the sighted, the low-cost Braille industry has stagnated.
The inventor tested his label maker at a workshop last year in Katpadi, India, where blind trainees successfully taught other visually impaired users how to create their very own Braille-It. Moallem is now looking to set up similar workshops across other locations, including Senegal, Liberia and Lebanon. The ultimate goal is to empower blind consumers to create their own low-cost and potentially life-saving tools -- particularly in developing countries, which account for an estimated 90 percent of the world's blind population. If successful, Moallem's invention and ensuing campaign could provide a remarkably simple solution for a large, yet often neglected population. We certainly wish him the best of luck. Find out more at the source link below, or check out Inhabitat's extensive coverage for more images and insight.