Apr. 17, 2015 | By Alec

While 3D printing technology has been steadily cementing its reputation as an excellent tool for help the disabled and people suffering from unusual medical conditions, one family from San Diego proves that we shouldn’t forget about the blind either. For one of Jason and Dori Walker’s daughters, Layla, is blind but is using 3D printed objects to ensure she doesn’t fall behind in school.

As father Jason explained in a brief documentary, he and his wife are raising a loving family with five children, of which three have been adopted. ‘When we started having kids and got married, we had two kids and lost a third one. We decided at that point to just adopt. My wife found these kids on a video on the Huffington Post. They were a set of three children, thirteen, ten and seven. They were looking for a forever home,’ he says.

This story already has everything to warm your heart, but unfortunately the eldest of the three, Layla, was born blind. The girl, who is currently in the eighth grade, was facing tremendous difficulties due to her blindness. Education, after all, is completely geared towards sight and while plenty of braille alternatives have fortunately been made already, lots of basic concepts in math, for instance, are very difficult to grasp when blind.


Father Jason, fortunately, happened to already have a ROBO 3D printer at home, which he quickly turned into an educational machine that turns intangible concepts such as fractures into tangible objects. ‘Layla’s predominant sense that she uses to see and learn the world is touch,’ mother Dori explains, so the parents set out to 3D print objects for their daughter. As Layla liked busses at the time, Jason first 3D printed a bus on his ROBO 3D printer to enable her to understand the concept of turning thoughts into objects. ‘I thought my dad bought it at the store. I asked for a bus and then a few hours later I could touch it,’ Layla said about that first print.

But it has since proven especially useful for understanding fractures, which teachers found difficult to explain to a blind person. As no simple teaching alternatives for the blind existed, Jason just decided to make one himself. ‘I started 3D printing pieces of pie and take them down to her and explain that this is a third and this is a sixth. Because in her mind, she thought that a sixth was bigger than a third because the number is bigger,’ Jason says. Helping his daughter feel and experience objects, just as you would draw a pizza for other struggling children, really helped. ‘I see with my hands so some ideas are hard, fractions are cool. And then geography was easier once I could feel the earth,’ Kayla said of these objects.

This short documentary, which you can find below, really proves that 3D printers can make a difference in the lives of the blind. And fortunately, it isn’t just an educational tool as well, as Jason also 3D prints toys for his children. Layla’s favorite print so far? ‘My Dad Printed me a piano that is cool, and the cupcakes have an interesting texture.’



Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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Gina Michell wrote at 4/19/2015 3:31:16 PM:

It looks like the comments are going directly to you and not publicly posted. Please feel free to share contact information with the family. Our team would really love to say hi to Layla, Josh and Samantha! Gmichell@tustin.k12.ca.us

Gina Michell wrote at 4/19/2015 3:00:55 PM:

Is there any way for you to give the family my contact info? I am part of the team of teachers for the visually impaired who worked with Layla from k-6th grade. We lost contact with her during her transition and would love to say hi and express our gratitude to her parents! Layla and her siblings are very special to our team and we are thrilled to see this great ending to their story. Please let me know how I can privately send you my contact information. Thank you in advance.

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