Braille Writing Tutor
TechBridgeWorld's Automated Braille Writing Tutor (BWT) project seeks to improve braille literacy among visually impaired youth around the world. In developing communities, braille is almost always written with a slate and stylus. For visually impaired children, learning to write braille in this manner can be a formidable process as they: (1) must learn mirror images of the letters, (2) may not have the individual guidance they need, (3) experience delayed feedback, and (4) must use limited or expensive paper supplies.
In response to the observed need for enhancing literacy for the visually impaired in developing communities, TechBridgeWorlddeveloped a low-cost device and software which use audio feedback to provide guided practice for beginners learning to write braille. The BWT consists of an electronic slate and wireless stylus, and is connected to a computer. As the user writes on the slate with the stylus, the tutor provides immediate audio feedback by repeating dots, written letters, numbers, or words, guiding writing and correcting mistakes. This feedback also serves as a diagnostic tool, giving instructors real-time understanding of students’ performance.
Since the project's beginning in 2006, the BWT now has several learning and educational game modes, is functional in English, Arabic, Bangla, Chinese, French and Swahili, and has been field tested in India, Tanzania and Bangladesh. Open source BWT hardware and software are available on SourceForge. The latest prototype, the Standalone Braille Tutor (SABT), has three hardware interface options for different levels of learning and contains onboard computing and power as a stand-alone tool to address the challenges of power failures and computer access in developing communities.
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