Fittle is the world’s first 3D printed braille puzzle which is open source. It helps visually impaired people in India learn to read braille quickly and efficiently.
In India, 22 million people are visually impaired and many of them can’t find work. The ability to read braille offers them a chance to be more independent. In fact, by learning how to read braille, a visually impaired person can triple their chance of higher education and employment.
However, the devices to learn are expensive. A digital braille reading device can cost over $1,000 alone. This means the majority of people in developing countries go without or have to make do with outdated tools.
A project in India has devised a braille learning device which is more accessible, cost-effective, and engaging. It’s called Fittle and is the “world’s first 3D printed braille puzzle”.
To make the puzzle accessible to everyone, fittles are open source and freely available to download from the Fittle website. These files can then be printed for a cheap cost and are hollow to save on material usage.
How does Fittle work?
Every part of the puzzle has a different letter, and connected parts spell out a complete word. But the ingenious thing is how the overall puzzle also takes the shape of what’s being spelled.
Marks on the pieces help the user know how to fit them together and once they’re in place, it’s possible to read and learn the word.
Initially the first Fittle prototype was made from wood. However, 3D printing provided a cheaper alternative and enables people to more easily source the files for fabrication.
Fittle is the work of Indian designer Tania Jain. He has been collaborating with LVPEI, India’s leading eye institute, Ravensburger, the German educational toy company, and Serviceplan, the independent global communication group.
The puzzles are already being printed and distributed across India. Christoph Bohlender, Creative Director at Serviceplan Health & Life, says: “Feedback has been overwhelming so far. More and more children are learning braille better with Fittle.”
Fittle 3D prints puzzles on Ultimaker 2+ 3D printers and then distributes them to LVPEI’s regional centers. Here, braille learners can enjoy using the puzzle.
3D printing is saving a lot of money. For example, with $10,000 it’s possible to create 16,000 Fittle puzzles instead of only providing only 200 braille books or four digital braille readers.
You can find out more about Fittle by visiting the website and help support their work.