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Illiteracy in the blind community is a human rights issue that activists have struggled to address for decades. But a new innovation may provide a solution.
The is a Braille learning device that, simply put, teaches blind and low vision people how to read Braille. The simplicity of its purpose belies the complexity of the technology behind this new device, which was meticulously conceptualized and created to provide blind and low vision people with unparalleled instruction in Braille skills.
“The Read Read can change the course of history for kids who are blind,” Kate Crohan, a Braille and technology teacher at the Perkins School for the Blind.
Here’s how it works: The Read Read allows independent learning through the same manipulative-based instruction teachers use to teach children how to read Braille. The device’s letter tiles feature sturdy Braille printed on metal, making it easier for those just learning Braille to decipher each letter by touch.
The device also speaks a letter out loud when a user touches a given tile, and announces the number of dots in each Braille letter. Through the device, a word created by lining up a series of tiles can be sounded out, helping with reading comprehension and “decoding” of a word.
The Read Read’s tiles also feature large-print letters, which help students with low vision learn Braille with the help of the limited sight they have.
“This is impressive,” Cory Kadlick, an assistive technology specialist at Perkins School for the Blind. Kadlick is blind and tested the device. “This isn’t something that’s going to go via the wayside and be done. It’s actually something that’s going to work out and succeed.”
The Read Read was created by Alex Tavares, a graduate student at the Harvard Innovations Lab. The device has been six years in the making and was piloted extensively at the Perkins School for the Blind and the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
“Up to this point, there hasn’t been a device that allows blind children to independently learn, and practice phonics and Braille using the same best practice that teachers use,” Tavares said. “Not only does the Read Read allow blind students to learn and practice Braille independently between meetings with a specialist, it also fosters independence, which is especially important for children who are blind.”
Continue onto Mashable to read the complete article.