Transforming Braille

Goal: Dramatically reduce the cost of Braille Displays

What's New?

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Why transform braille?

The objective of the project is to identify a breakthrough solution which will radically reduce the cost of refreshable braille technology so that it both comes within the reach of blind people in developing countries but also allows braille libraries to give readers the choice of cheap electronic text files and more expensive hard copy braille.

So far the prohibitive cost of refreshable braille has forced publishers to offer only a braille reading experience through expensive hard copy. The market for the new device consists almost entirely of readers who currently do not have access to a refreshable braille display because these are mostly supplied by governments to blind people in education and employment in the most prosperous countries. A new, ultra simple device will not compete with the sophisticated multi-feature products currently on the market.

Project Chair Kevin Carey, presenting the Charter proposal to the DAISY Board said: "We are passionate about access by blind people all over the world to the written word in tactile form. This fits in with the DAISY policy of finding end-to-end accessibility solutions for people who have difficulty with print. There isn't any point in securing accessible text files if user interface devices that meet the reading needs of all user groups are not available to complete the process."

View of the Refreshable Braille Display

What are we doing to make this happen?

Phase One of the project began by defining a user requirement which was submitted for comment to all the members of the DAISY Board and to other interested organisations such as the World Braille Council. Almost 60 technologies to develop a new device were identified and scored by an independent engineering company using a tool which allows the weighting of the scored factors, such as price, proximity to prototype and refresh rate.

The Project Steering Group identified three promising projects and four to watch and this Phase, funded by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) will be completed by the end of July 2012.

Phase Two, our current phase, has received support from many different funding partners around the world. We worked with the projects identified in Phase One to bring them to working prototype and submit them for user testing.

Phase Three, which will begin early in September 2013, will raise the cost of the tooling of the winning technology and seek investor support for the purchase of devices.

Naturally, we are looking for funding for this exciting project. Interested organisations should talk to our project team, via their details given below.

Contact Details:

Photo Credit: the photograph of the close-up of the braille display is from the Wikimedia Commons and is available on Wikipedia; permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.