Tactile Engineering

Logo, stylized "TE", with text: Tactile Engineering.

Technology to Improve Information Access for the Blind

Three workers, wearing lab coats, in a factory.
Three workers, wearing lab coats, in a factory.

A Crisis in Braille Literacy

There are 2.2 billion blind and visually impaired people worldwide. However, braille literacy is declining. In the United States, for example, according to the American Printing House for the Blind (APH), less than 10% of blind K-12 students are braille-literate. In many parts of the world, this percentage is even lower.

Braille literacy is critical for gaining employment, especially in high-demand technical and scientific roles. According to the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), 70% of adults who are blind are unemployed, and of those persons with vision impairments who are employed, 90% are braille-literate. Although advances in voice-control and speech synthesis might seem to offer a solution to workplace accessibility, such tools cannot provide access to mathematics, technical content, or graphics, all of which are vital for equal-opportunity STEM education and employment.

Introducing the Tactile Graphics Tablet

The Tactile Graphics Tablet is an “iPad for the blind”, an array of dots linked to a mobile device that allows readers to access Braille more naturally and experience revolutionary graphical capabilities. Up to eight lines of electronic Braille cells enable students, professionals, and leisure readers alike to easily navigate long equations and access technical diagrams. Multiple devices can be linked to form larger readable surfaces. The Peridot’s powerful software offers advanced, easy-to-use tools that improve STEM education, reduce workloads, and enable adaptive standardized testing.

Two Tactile Graphics Tablets connected side-by-side on a desktop.
Tactile Graphics Tablets can be linked to form larger screen sizes.

Key attributes:

  • Graphical refreshable Braille display that replaces paper Braille with precision electronic cells that use standard Braille size, spacing, and height.
  • Dynamic graphical capabilities enable interactive, animated tactile features that have never before been successfully brought to market.
  • Modular, replaceable cells reduce repair time and costs, and web-based support tools enable remote calibration to fix minor hardware issues.

Applications:

  • E-Reader: Books and documents in a full range of formats (including BRF, PDF, and EPUB) can be downloaded and displayed.
  • Graphing Calculator: Duplicates the functions of a traditional scientific calculator, but with a tactile output that can be panned, zoomed, and highlighted.
  • Image Viewer: Provides new ways to learn using animated, highlighted, and interactive images that can demonstrate chemical reactions, electrical current flow, geographical events, and other complex subjects.

Additional applications are in development, including a web browser, classroom aids, annotation tools, notetaker, and leisure software. The tablet’s built-in WiFi allows users to download and install new apps as they become available.