Wednesday, August 23, 2006

iBrail Creative Team

Development of a touch sensitive braille note taker ..

"City Paper doesn't have a Braille edition, so do your blind neighbors a favor and read this good news aloud. Thanks to a team of senior engineering majors in Professor Andrew Conn's Engineering Design Class at Johns Hopkins University, soon a sleek, handheld, needs-no-batteries appliance may be on the market that allows sightless readers to jot down Braille notes up to six times quicker than the old "punch one dot at a time" stylus method. Best of all, its inexpensive and self-assembled design is a godsend to Third World countries, where illiteracy among the blind is epidemic. The project team has dispersed for the summer, but we caught up with some of the members in two separate interviews--first with supervising Conn and student Mark MacLeod, and then MacLeod, student Penny Robinson, and senior machine shop coordinator Eric Harden. They're all proud of the device that their "Team IBRAIL" created, and rightly so.

City Paper: How did this project get started?

Andrew Conn: The National Federation of the Blind [NFB] sponsored this project. They said what the world needs is an inexpensive way to create Braille. There are wonderful machines, typewriter type machines, electronic machines that cost $5,000-$6,000, but if you're poor and blind, wow--that's a mountain. They hoped we could keep the costs down to $50, or maybe $35, for pieces and the parts. But that's it. They didn't tell us how to do it. And so we started the process for this project, or any project, by defining the so-called elements of [the device]. And so we brainstorm--all of us, the whole class--for ideas.

Mark MacLeod: The first brainstorming session I can't really recall, but I know pretty early along the road we were talking about a typewriter. That is the most common method for mechanizing Braille writing. They have the Perkins Brailler, which is the first way to make Braille."   (Continued via Baltimore City Paper)   [Ergonomics Resources]

Touch Sensitive Braille Note Taker - Ergonomics

Touch Sensitive

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