About Us

Tactile Engineering (TE) is headquartered in Lafayette, Indiana, just a few miles east of the Purdue University campus and in the heart of the Purdue research corridor. TE was founded in 2013 with the goal of developing and manufacturing an affordable tactile graphics tablet for use by blind and visually impaired (B/VI) individuals around the world.

Production team members are shown examining a Cadence module PCB

While this particular mission to make a tactile tablet started in 2012, the baseline technology and pursuit of improved STEM accessibility for the blind and visually impaired (B/VI) have been part of our lives for over 25 years, when we were graduate students at Purdue University. Dave Schleppenbach’s wife Wendi was blind, and Dave also encountered two undergrad students pursuing pre-med degrees. With Purdue’s financial backing, Dave assembled a team of science, engineering, and education majors to develop Braille and tactile materials and accessible learning techniques for STEM subjects. 

The VISIONS Lab, as the project came to be known, was wildly successful; blind students achieved top grades and later, STEM careers and advanced degrees. This experience sparked a lifelong passion in the VISIONS Lab team members, many of whom later built careers in accessibility and education. Dave started a company in Lafayette, GH LLC, dedicated to providing accessible materials nationwide; GH produced STEM textbooks, standardized tests, tax documents, tactile graphics, and audio-described content for a variety of organizations throughout the United States.

While at Purdue, Dave and Wunji Lau started a project to develop a full-screen tactile display for the blind, pursuing the dream of a device that would allow the B/VI community to easily access complex media such as mathematical graphs, scientific graphics, maps, and tables. Unfortunately, the manufacturing technology of the time wasn’t up to the task. However, fifteen years later, they met Tom Baker and Alex Moon, who had developed new concepts that eventually resulted in a working prototype in 2018.

Our Team

Dave Schleppenbach – Chief Executive Officer

Dave has over 25 years’ experience developing assistive technology, beginning with cutting-edge research at Purdue University.

In 2000, Dave founded GH, LLC, an industry-leading assistive technology and services company.

Over the next sixteen years, Dave drove product development, published numerous academic and technical articles, and was heavily involved in the development of multiple accessibility specifications including ANSI/NISO DAISY, ePub, NIMAS, MathML, and others. Dave also holds numerous patents for inventions spanning multiple fields and disciplines.

Dave continues to work closely with government agencies, non-profit and advocacy groups, industry, and other organizations to develop accessibility policies and resolve difficult technical issues surrounding accessibility.

Tom Baker – Chief Technology Officer

Tom has been developing electronic gadgets and mechanical devices since childhood.

He started his first company, Steradian Technologies, LLC, at age 20. Nearly twenty years later, Steradian Technologies continues to innovate in the expanding laser tag entertainment market.

Tom and his business partner Alex Moon have also founded several other successful technology companies, developing novel products ranging from musical instruments to cellular communications devices.

With extensive knowledge in all aspects of product development, Tom’s key strengths lie in circuit design and manufacturing, CNC programming and machining, injection mold machining, process design, and small business management.

Alex Moon – Chief Software Officer

Alex is a lifelong computer programmer, skilled in numerous programming languages and technologies.

He started his career at MailCode, Inc., becoming lead developer for several years before partnering with Tom Baker to create Steradian Technologies in 2003.

Alex continues to lead Steradian’s software team. Alex and Tom’s other companies include Omega Music Technologies and Tactile Engineering. They have also collaborated with other companies to develop numerous products, including a raised-line image eraser and a laser-tracking sensor for drum sets.

Alex’ skills include all aspects of product design, with focus on software development, web development, 3D modeling, and injection mold design.

Wunji Lau – Chief Marketing Officer

Wunji is a science and technology consultant, writer, and researcher with over a decade of experience in assistive technology and STEM accessibility.

As part of the VISIONS Lab accessibility project at Purdue University in the 1990s, Wunji conceived a new type of tactile display; this technology was later patented and formed the basis of the lab’s braille display initiative.

For twenty years, Wunji has driven technical marketing, business development, and communications for companies in a wide range of industries, including accessibility, biotech, software, education, film, and multimedia gaming.

Michael Baran – Chief Financial Officer

MBA, CPA (inactive), CGMA qualified Senior Executive with extensive experience within international, multi-sector small to mid-market entrepreneurial companies.

Strong track record in transformation and growth management, focused on creating long-term enterprise value.

Highly skilled in raising debt and equity financing for companies at all stages from Angel to Series C. Deep knowledge of IT systems evaluation, design, and implementation to streamline efficiencies, improve controls and deliver statistical analysis, providing detailed reporting enabling data-driven decision making.

Greg Williams – Scientific Advisor

Dr. Greg Williams is a computational chemist and STEM accessibility researcher with a lifetime of experience in real-world application of accessibility methods.

Greg is an expert user of the NVDA, JAWS, and VoiceOver screen readers. He has consulted for numerous organizations on Section 508 and WCAG compliance and accessible STEM content, and is also a member of the chemistry committee of the Braille Authority of North America.

Greg’s passion is to have all online content, especially STEM content, readily accessible to BVI persons and eventually to be able to conduct experimental chemistry independently.

Shane Brooks – Production Facility General Manager

With an extensive background in manufacturing, Shane is responsible for the smooth operation of our production facility.

Connor Watson – Production Manager

Connor is responsible for keeping our production facility humming with action.

Connor studied at Vincennes University in the AIM program, and is trained in Industrial Maintenance, including robotics, PLCs, and electrical systems.