Editor’s note: January 4 is designated as International World Braille Day, recognizing Louis Braille, born that day in 1809. Braille was the creator of the braille code, which revolutionized reading and writing for people who are blind throughout the world. Over the past 200 plus years, many tools have been developed helping people learn to read and write braille. Read the following review of a new tool.
VisionAware Peer Advisor Steve Kelley offers a brief look at a new device aimed at self-paced braille learning. The Braille Tutor device is available in multiple languages and is affordable and easy to use.
Designed for Self-Paced Braille Learning
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) worldwide 90% of individuals experiencing blindness or vision loss are unable to read. This data motivated the engineers at Sezual, in Kazakhstan, to design the Braille Tutoring Device, as noted in a press release in the Astana Times. This device is specifically designed to provide independent, self-paced training experience with braille. Sezual developed this handheld, electronic training device, and secured funding to create 40 prototypes that were distributed to a local school for testing. With the device, students were able to learn the braille alphabet within two months.
Description of the Device
Images of the device indicate it has 64 keys, arranged in groups, for teaching both the alphabet and numbers. The top edge has a power switch, USB port and speaker/earbud jack. This training device is not an editor, so it is not designed for writing or reading documents. Nurbek indicated the company is now working on a new device that will allow students to write documents. One of the primary goals for this initial training device was to keep it both simple to use and affordable.
Sezual CEO, Nurbek Yensebayev, the Braille Tutoring Device says the device is available in several languages: Russian, Kazakh, English, Chinese, and Arabic. These devices are simple to use, and do not require a connection to the internet. Students press the various braille characters on the device, and each is verbally described electronically.
Device Provided to Local Schools Through Corporate Funders
In the two years since the development of the Braille Tutoring Device, Sezual engaged several corporate funding partners enabling the company to provide these devices, in four languages, to local schools. One TVI describes her experience with students in the classroom using the Braille Tutoring Device, and explains that it removes some of the confusion young students may experience when first introduced to braille dots.
In addition to the project Nurbek mentioned for writing and saving braille, Sezual developed a Bio Locater based on echolocation. The Bio Locator emits high frequency sound waves that are reported to help trained users navigate obstacles while moving about, as cited in a recent Disability Insider article.
More Information About Braille
To learn more about braille, take the OIB-TAC course: Braille: What It Is, and Why It Is Important. The course is available on the OIB-TAC Continuing Education page. It is available for 1 hour of CRC, ACVREP, and NBPCB credit.