A Mechatronics-based Portable Braille Reading and Writing Device

Abstract

Braille alphabet is a tool that enables visually impaired individuals to read and write. Studies have demonstrated that Braille literacy significantly enhances the education, career and quality of life of visually impaired people. Therefore, the development of Braille reading and writing devices is of great importance.
Current Braille writing techniques are either inefficient, resulting in user fatigue, or they are bulky and thus lack portability whereas commercially available Braille reading devices are very expensive and their price increases significantly as the number of lines to be displayed increase. In this research project, we aim to build a Braille reading and writing device that will be portable and lightweight. Last year we attended the NFB Convention where we received some feedback from visually blind people about the Braille devices they use on a daily basis. With this feedback we built several prototypes for our Braille writing device which can emboss multiple dots simultaneously, meaning that the user will be able to emboss a Braille character at once. Before building the prototypes, we measured the required transverse force to puncture a Braille dot on a Braille paper. The results of these measurements helped us to select an optimal motor for the actuation of Braille pins. Currently, we are in the design process of a portable Braille reading device with the help of haptics, which will greatly enhance the Braille reading experience without even embossing Braille letters on paper.