Alex Tavares has developed an interactive device that helps anyone learn braille. Working at Harvard’s Innovation Lab, Alex created a device that uses tiles with braille letters on each tile. When touching the tile, it responds exactly like a touch screen device. The Read Read will speak the braille letter, speak the dots used to create the letter, and even phonetically read back entire words. The Read Read was tested at the Perkins School for the Blind in Massachusetts with very positive results.
I believe this is the first device that allows a child or first time braille user the ability to learn braille in an interactive way without a specialized instructor present.
From the Developer
The Read Read is a hardware device that consists of a set of tiles that represents the speech sounds in the English language. The Read Read utilizes the same ‘capacitive-touch’ technology that allows you to interact with the touchscreen of a smartphone or tablet, but pairs the technology with manipulative-based, best practice reading instruction. New learners quickly observe that when a tile is placed in a slot and touched, the device plays an audio file of the sound that the letter makes, for as long as you touch the tile. For example, if a child places a tile marked with the letter ‘m’ into the slot and swipes under the letter, the device will make the sound /mmm/ until the child finishes swiping. If multiple tiles are placed beside one another to form a phonetic word, swiping across the tiles will result in the device sounding out the word, articulating each letter’s sound as the child swipes across that letter, just as a reading teacher would. The tiles incorporate braille, so that blind students may learn braille and braille literacy without the need for constant assistance from a specialist. When a child touches the braille on a tile, they get immediate audio feedback about the letter’s name, braille dot configuration, or corresponding phonetic sound, depending on the mode that meets the learner’s needs.