ELIA has created a modern, efficient alternative to braille that’s incredibly easy to learn for people who have a visual impairment and now they need your support.
Kickstarter is a great place to introduce a product, because it’s a community of early adopters, innovators and creative thinkers.
“We’re hoping this community will support our project by sharing it with those who actually need it most, and may not have access to this platform,” said an ELIA representative.
The ELIA Frames letters are designed to be understood by touch for those who have a severe visual impairment, to be read by touch and sight for those who have modest visual impairment, and to be read visually by those who have full sight.
This Kickstarter will serve the most critical needs of people who have a visual impairment—enabling them to retain their literacy, live independently through labeling household items, and learn the skills needed for employment and workplace independence.
ELIA letters—known as ELIA Frames—leverage modern printing technology and design principles to optimize each letter’s design and create easily identifiable characters. ELIA Frames are based on the standard Roman alphabet, since roughly 70% of the world’s population uses it to read and write.
Less than 1% of those who have a visual impairment can read braille. Braille requires exceptional finger sensitivity and intellect, along with a lot of determination and time—it can take up to 10 months just to learn the alphabet.
About 200 million people with a visual impairment could benefit from ELIA in its current design, and another 85 million could benefit from it if customized to their standard scripts.
Currently, the employment rate among individuals with visual impairment is at an estimated 43%. For those who read braille, that rate soars to 85%. ELIA can have the same benefit for the 99% who can’t read braille.
ELIA Frames can be learned tactilely in as little as 3 hours—and visually in a few minutes—since the font leverages a previously established alphabet.
The original design for ELIA was created by ELIA’s founder Andrew Chepaitis’ mother. From there, Andrew and graphic designer Ze Frank developed the frames, and then finalized the design of ELIA with industrial designer, Reed DeWinter of Humanfactors Design Works.
Chepaitis was inspired to introduce ELIA after his grandmother, Elia Vallone started losing her sight from macular degeneration. A woman who could once finish the New York Times crossword puzzle, she found it difficult to learn braille—it was based on an entirely new system that she had no reference to.
That’s when Andrew and his mother started thinking of a solution that built on his grandmother’s skills, since her case wasn’t unique—just 1% of the blind/Visually Impaired (VI) population is born without sight, with the rest losing sight later on in life. Andrew continued his mother’s work through the next decade. Thirteen years later, he founded ELIA Life Technology.
The ELIA team says that they want to establish ELIA as a mainstream system that will connect people who have lost vision, with the help of Kickstarter. Your funding support will help streamline printing books in the ELIA Frames font, to be distributed to libraries and institutions across the US where readers will be able to read the texts and share them with their community. This will be the first step to establishing ELIA as a system across the country, and around the world.