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Learning Braille made easy

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New version of Braille Writing Tutor is battery powered & portable and has onboard computing and multiple interfaces

Learning to write in Braille will become faster and more effective soon, thanks to a new Stand Alone Braille Writing Tutor being offered by the Mathru Educational Trust for the Blind.

Developed first in 2006, the Braille Writing Tutor (BWT) is a device that is connected to a computer and provides immediate and automatic feedback as the user writes on an electronic slate with the traditional stylus. This E-slate or the BWT is a result of the sustained collaboration between Carneige Mellon University’s (CMU) research group, TechBridgeWorld, and Mathru Educational Trust for the Blind.

Since 2006, this technology has been continually modified and improved. Fun games such as learning spelling of animals through animal sounds have been added. Interns from CMU have been testing and improving the device at Mathru every year.

“This year we are working on the Stand Alone version of the BWT which has onboard computing and is battery powered, making the device portable as well as affordable. It has multiple interfaces which will allow adjustability based on the skill level of the user,” said Shree Lakshmi Rao, one of the eight interns from CMU who are working to develop new learning modes and educational games at Mathru this summer.

Choice

The new version further allows students to independently choose between learning Braille dots, English Braille letter pattern, Kannada and Hindi Braille, and mathematics.

They can then follow the audio instructions provided by the device.

“I have always felt the need for a technology that would not only help students learn writing in Braille faster, but would also make the learning process fun. This technology has helped us increase the literacy rate of the visually impaired at our school,” said G.R. Muktha, founder and managing trustee, Mathru, who understands that finding new technologies is an arduous task and has taken it upon herself to promote this technique.

Hans, a Class 9 student at Mathru, was able to learn English in just a year after his arrival from the Democratic Republic of Congo. “Most students have trouble with the slate and stylus because it is too small to start with, but the Braille tutor lets us go at our own pace,” he says.

The device has been currently prototyped by TechBridgeWorld for research purposes in association with Mathru.


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