Instant Braille translator can fit in your hand

June 7th, 2017 by An all-woman team of six engineering undergraduate students at MIT has created an inexpensive, hand-held device prototype that provides real-time translation of printed text to Braille -- which could greatly increase accessibility of written materials for the blind. Team Tactile was one of the winners of the Lemelson-MIT Student Prize this year for their creation, which translates printed text into the raised-dot language. Here's how it works: The device has an internal camera that takes photos of the printed text, which is then converted into digital text using optical character recognition software. Next, the text is translated into Braille, and a mechanical system raises and lowers pins on the surface of the Tactile that form the characters to be read by one's fingertips. Though the current version is limited in the number of characters it can translate and display, the team hopes to make the device capable of scanning an entire page at a time and displaying two lines of text at once. Read more: New Scientist

MIT Student Engineers Invented a Real-Time Text-To-Braille Translator

May 12th, 2017 by With just a few hours left to build a groundbreaking gadget, things weren't going as smoothly as planned. Six young women, all undergrad engineering students at MIT, had established a lofty goal: to create the first-ever affordable device that immediately translates printed text into Braille. The idea could prove revolutionary for the blind community, transforming how they read while also creating sorely needed opportunities for children with low or no vision. But throughout the hectic, 15-hour MakeMIT hackathon last February, the women — competing as Team 100% Enthusiasm — were running into snags. The lines for hackathon participants to use the 3D printers were taking forever. The team laser-cut the wrong material for the casing. And the optical recognition software they wanted to use — crucial for the device to actually work — wasn't turning up accurate translations of text. "It turned out to be a lot harder than we thought," says Charlene Xia, one of the team members. Read more: Mashable

Endangered Language: How Technology May Replace Braille and Sign

June 20th, 2016 by It's hard to think about language as being endangered or replaceable. But as our culture and means of communication evolve, certain languages find their utility in decline. Braille and sign language are in just such a predicament. Technological advancements such as Voice-to-text, digital audio, and the cochlear implant have steadily decreased the demand for these once revolutionary facilitators for the disabled. This hour, we'll hear from members of the hearing and visually impaired communities about this controversial shift in their culture. Read more: WNPR