Jun 13, 2017 | By Tess

A new device on Kickstarter is hoping to make reading Braille more accessible to the visually impaired. Read Read, which was made with the help of 3D printing, could help reduce illiteracy rates in the blind community and increase Braille education. Currently, only 12% of blind people in the U.S. receive some sort of Braille training.

A remarkably simple device, Read Read is essentially a set of tiles, each of which represents the speech sounds of the English language. The tiles themselves feature the visual sound (a letter, for instance), the Braille equivalent, and a capacitive-touch technology that lets users hear the sound of the tile when touched. To use the Read Read system, users simply have to interact with the tiles, placing them in different orders to create words.

“The biggest barrier to braille literacy is a lack or complete absence of high-quality braille instruction. Currently, blind students are unable to learn and practice braille reading independently—all of their learning hinges on the presence of a teacher who knows both braille, and how to teach reading,” reads the device’s Kickstarter page.

The idea behind Read Read was to give Braille learners a bit more learning autonomy, especially considering that there is a lack of teachers for students with visual impairments. With higher literacy rates in the blind community, the hope is that people with visual impairments will be more qualified for employment. According to the Read Read page, 97% of visually impaired adults who cannot read braille are unemployed.

Read Read offers a potential solution to this problem, and lots of work went into designing and optimizing the system. 3D printing, ever the advantageous process for prototyping, was used throughout the design process to help ensure that the size and dimensions of the tiles were user-friendly.

"Everything from the size and thickness of the tiles, to the spacing of the area surrounding the Braille, to multiple means of picking up the tiles was designed with feedback from young children, teens, and adults who are blind," said Alex Tavares, creator of Read Read and a graduate student at the Harvard Innovations Lab.

Read Read was trialled for a period of twelve weeks at the Perkins School for the Blind, in Watertown, Massachusetts. Overall, Tavares says the system received positive reviews from both students and teachers. Kate Crohan, a braille and technology teacher at the school, even went as far as to say that Read Read could “change the course of history for kids who are blind.”

A Kickstarter campaign for Read Read is currently underway, and seeks to raise $273,000. With the funding, Tavares says the goal is to equip at least 400 blind students with the Read Read system. Rewards, therefore, are donation-based, as a pledge of $495 will provide one student with the Read Read device. Backers who want to give a device to someone they know can of course do so, while smaller pledges are also welcome.

In recent years, 3D printing has played quite an important role in the advancement of aids and tools for the visually impaired. Here at 3Ders, we’ve been happy to cover stories about 3D printed tactile maps, art, games, and even music, all of which help the visually impaired understand and appreciate the world in new ways.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



Maybe you also like:


Leave a comment:

Your Name:


Subscribe us to

3ders.org Feeds 3ders.org twitter 3ders.org facebook   

About 3Ders.org

3Ders.org provides the latest news about 3D printing technology and 3D printers. We are now seven years old and have around 1.5 million unique visitors per month.

News Archive