3D printing puzzles help students with vision disabilities feel the words

Asia-Pacific, February 3 2014

AHMEDABAD, INDIA: While braille helps people who are blind read, educators have been unending tested by the challenge to make their students visualize the concepts they are learning. A toy that a postgraduate student of the National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad, has collaborated in developing may well turn out to be the “holy braille” of education for people who are blind and low vision, helping them feel the world around them. The student, Tania Jain, and a Hyderabad-based ophthalmologist Dr Anthony Vipin Das, have created ‘Fittle’ (Fit the Puzzle) that will enableĀ  children with vision disabilities learn letters of braille and sense the objects the words convey.

FITTLE puzzle for the word fish.

FITTLE puzzle for the word fish.

Fittle involves breaking down a word into as many blocks as the letters in the word. For example, FISH is constructed by joining together four puzzle blocks which have letters F, I, S, H on them, each imprinted in braille. So when a student with vision disabilities fits all the letters together, he or she can read the word ‘fish’ as well as feel the shape of the fish that the blocks will form.

In the first phase of the project, the shapes for 26 different words are being prepared through 3D designing of the puzzle blocks. The blocks are obtained through 3D printing. “This method will radically change the learning process of braille,” said Tania who is working with her classmate Debanshu Bhaumik on the project. “I have already undertaken trials at blind schools and the response has been great.”

The first Fittle series is being prepared which will be included in the curriculum of LV Prasad Eye Institute in Hyderabad. “Of all with people vision disabilities, only 10 percent know braille,” said Das, a consultant at LV Prasad Eye Institute. “This tool will help blind kids at a young age to learn braille and will also give them a good idea of the world around them.”

With current technology, Fittle can be downloaded through open source platforms from the website . The letters can be printed by anyone with a 3D printer. Since the cost of input is high as it involves 3D printing the team behind Fittle has sought crowd funding through a website.

Fittle was first presented by Tania at ‘Design Innovation & You’ workshop in the first week of July organized by Camera Culture Group of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s media lab on the BITS Pilani campus in Hyderabad. The theme of the workshop was ‘Engineering the Eye’.

Source: Times of India

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