Jul 27, 2016 | By Tess

A team of researchers from the 3D Printing Lab at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology have conducted a hands on study to see whether 3D printed learning aids could help improve literacy and writing skills for visually impaired children. The research project was conceived of after the researchers noticed a lack of literary tools and resources for visually impaired or blind children.

3D printing technologies have come to play a big part in the development of new and innovative educational devices for the visually impaired, as they’ve opened up virtually limitless possibilities for what can be manufactured in three dimensions. Exciting projects like 3D printed tactile art, 3D printed tactile music notation, 3D printed maps, and 3D printed children’s picture books have created a whole new educational landscape for the visually impaired as well a new way of experiencing the world.

Traditional literary aids on paper

The recent research project, led by research scientist Jang Hee I, was aimed at developing and testing the effectiveness of 3D printed tactile learning tools for helping visually impaired children to both read and write. According to the research, 3D printing could allow for the creation of customized writing tools which could in turn help children to visualize, understand, and learn to write Hangul, the Korean alphabet.

The research project was divided into three main parts. First, the team studied and examined young students from the Seoul National School for the Blind to see where learning resources needed improvement, and they then designed a set of literacy tools to be 3D printed. Finally, the 3D printed tools were tested on three kindergarten students to see whether they helped them learn to write Hangul, a skill which could come in handy for communication, and for simple tasks like writing one's name.

The Hangul single consonants letters

As the report lays out, the research team designed a set of 24 3D printed learning tools, one for each letter of the Korean alphabet. Each 3D printed tool consisted of two sections: a large scale embossed Braille representation of the letter and a debossed indentation of the letter itself, which was to function as a writing guide for the students, similar to a stencil. In creating the 3D printed letter guides, the research team was hoping to improve on existing visually impaired learning resources, which typically consist of lightly embossed and debossed paper.

After testing the 3D printed learning tools and hearing feedback from the students, the research team found that the solid 3D tools offered a number of advantages over more traditional paper-based resources. For instance, the hard plastic material of the stencils (which were printed in PLA) helped the students to keep them steady and to trace straighter lines for each character, as opposed to paper guides which were flimsy and often moved or ripped. Additionally, unlike paper templates, the plastic 3D printed ones can easily be reused ultimately cutting back on costs and materials.

Hangul writing skills before the 3D printed aid

Notable improvements using the 3D printed tools

Of course, a number of improvements were also noted for the 3D printed tools, including making the Braille embossings slightly smaller and making the 3D printed stencils more tactile-friendly with less sharp angles and edges. The potential for customized tools was also highlighted, as the research team explained, “For future iterations of the literacy tools, we will consider building each tool according to the visual ability of the student so that they are able to feel the tool better. If the student’s sight is strong, then it would be logical to decrease the width of the debossed holes. If the student’s sight is weak, then it would be appropriate to increase the width of the debossed holes.”

With the initial success and obvious potential of their project, there is little doubt the research team from the 3D Printing Lab at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology will continue its hard work. In fact, while they are currently working on the Korean alphabet, they have also stated the potential to expand their project into other languages, including English as well as into other areas, like teaching children how to identify traffic signs.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Jang Hee I wrote at 7/29/2016 5:48:30 AM:

Thanks! Please let me know if you have any questions. jhicobrix@gmail.com

Helder wrote at 7/28/2016 10:59:33 AM:

This is great! In my blog one of the best posts i have is about learn korean, http://www.lingholic.com/how-to-learn-korean-a-complete-guide-a-to-z/ I will try to include some of the information that i have just read here regarding this technology.

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