[nobe-l] Open Source Braille Display -- IndieGoGo

David Andrews dandrews at visi.com
Thu Dec 29 20:03:24 UTC 2011

Subject: Open Source Braille Display -- IndieGoGo


The Story

This 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

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:
list of 4 items
• 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.
list end

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 contribute!

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,
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.

Thank You.

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