Europe Aug 16, 2012
LONDON: The DAISY Consortium has recently commissioned the Transforming Braille project to identify a breakthrough solution which will radically reduce the cost of refreshable braille technology. This is to ensure that this technology comes within the reach of blind people in developing countries while allowing braille libraries to give readers the choice of inexpensive electronic text files and more costly hard copy braille.
Currently braille devices are mostly supplied by governments to people who are blind in education and employment sectors in the most prosperous countries. Our new, ultra simple device will be aimed at those braille readers who do not have a refreshable display, and it will not compete with the sophisticated multi-feature products currently on the market.
So far we have been busy gathering user requirements with the help of interested organizations including the World Braille Council. We have looked at over 50 technologies around the world weighing factors, such as price, proximity to prototype and refresh rate. This first phase, funded by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) is now complete.
The Project Board has selected three promising technologies and four to watch. The Transforming Braille team is now working closely with these projects to bring them to working prototype and submit them for user testing. Phase Two has received support from Association Valentin Haüy (AVH) in France, Sight Savers International, Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind, National Library Service USA, National Federation of the Blind USA, CNIB Canada and the International Council on English Braille.
Phase Three, to carry out the tooling and manufacture of a low-cost refreshable braille display, will begin in early 2013 and is currently seeking investor support.
Project Chair Kevin Carey, stated: “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 with print disabilities. 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.”
The Transforming Braille Project area has been added to the DAISY website and a Forum for the project has been made available.
For more information, visit www.daisy.org