Note: to see it in action, visit YouTube at http://youtu.be/b8-v50eQkTM
The StoryThis project started earlier this year when I read a local author's book of life as a Blind person. After contacting him, I decided I could best help by designing a simple device to make low-cost Braille display from a computer possible.
So Will It Change the World?
I hope so - or I wouldn't be working on it!
Braille is to the Blind as the written
word is to us sighted folk - and so Braille literacy is vitally
important. Yet according to Wikipedia, while in 1960
half of blind American schoolchildren could read Braille, in 2007,
that number had dropped to one in ten. To improve literacy, we need
to make available more ways to access and learn Braille - and an
important one is a tool to allow the Blind to read the vast amounts
of information on the Internet.
For many years, Braille readers have done just that. A Braille reader takes computer text and turns it into tactile impressions of Braille characters for the blind to 'read'. However, these devices are expensive - thousands of dollars - and so few can afford them. The goal of this project is to make an Open Source/Open Hardware Braille reader: simpler, easy to build, well documented, and inexpensive, so people anywhere can make it themselves (or get it made locally).
But there's a second goal: to get people doing more. This design is meant to be simple and cheap to build. My hope is other, smarter people will step in and build better, faster, and more powerful devices. But nobody is doing it now, and so someone has to start the ball rolling.
With your help, this will be that ball...
What You Can Do
The goal is to get from the current first prototype to a finished design for a 40-character Braille display, complete with software, and all the details people need to build it, placed online. To that end, here's some of the things needed:
- Small CNC machine (build or buy), to do faster turnaround of prototype parts.
- Purchase a selection of stepper motors and driver boards, to test different price/performance ratios for the Braille display design.
- Get a low-cost netbook to prototype the exact software to run a device (netbook rather than a full computer so as to test the device in the most likely 'real world' situation).
- Materials! Prototypes use up a lot of material, as a part can get tweaked many times, each time requiring a new piece cut out.
Make no mistake - the
project IS going ahead, whether a little or a lot of money comes in -
the difference is just the speed things happen! So when this project
is out there making the difference I hope it will, ask yourself how
good it will feel to say 'I helped with that' - and please
Any level is appreciated, and there's some 'thank yous' listed on the right side of this page to show appreciate for your aid.
Progress will be discussed on my blog, http://UtopiaMechanicus.com, and designs will be made available there as they are finished. All code and design will also be made available for download, allowing people to make or modify these products.
What (Else) You Can Do
Tell the world - the more people that know of this project, the
greater impact we can make. Blog about it, tweet away, link to it,
talk about it at work. And please share this information with everyone and anyone.