Solving the literacy puzzle

Eye institute to help visually-challenged kids learn Braille with 3D printable puzzles

March 14, 2018 12:46 am | Updated 12:27 pm IST - HYDERABAD

Fittle, a puzzle-based platform for learning Braille, is expected to improve literacy levels among visually-impaired population. It requires one to put together puzzles to form an object and the Braille dots on them will help learn the alphabet

Fittle, a puzzle-based platform for learning Braille, is expected to improve literacy levels among visually-impaired population. It requires one to put together puzzles to form an object and the Braille dots on them will help learn the alphabet

Over 90% of India’s visually-challenged are said to be illiterate, a statistic known to have a direct bearing on the social and economic standing of the population. City-based L.V. Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) is hoping to make a dent in that number with a solution that promises more than just literacy.

Fittle is a puzzle-based platform for learning Braille conceptualised by design student Tanya Jain, who came up with the idea during a hackathon in 2013. That idea turned into a pitch presentation within a day and soon, into 3D printable puzzles. Pieces of puzzles when put together form an object. The Braille dots on them help learn the alphabet.

“Children learn to read Braille, understand what a particular object is and also learn to make words,” said Dr. Anthony Vipin Das, who led the team that came out with Fittle, a word-play on the phrase ‘Fit-the-puzzle’.

After making the first designs and sharing them on the internet, LVPEI found takers for its creation across the globe.

A school for visually impaired in Japan set up a printer to print the designs, while a group in China made the designs more life-like.

“The designs for all letters of the English alphabet have been uploaded. They can be printed by anyone without cost. We plan to seed 3D printers strategically so they can be made available at centres that educate the visually impaired,” Dr. Das added.

He says by making the designs open-source, the possibilities of how it could be used and improved are endless.

Raghu Gullapalli, executive director for Technologies and Business Development at LVPEI, said work is underway to perfect the printing materials used in the pieces, which have a reference line and pair in a specific way to prevent mix-up.

LVPEI’s idea has also found takers in multi-nationals in Europe. Ravensburger, one of Europe’s leading toymakers, is helping LVPEI to take the puzzles across India. Serviceplan, a leading advertising agency from Europe, has also partnered with the institute.

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