Today is World Braille Day, and time to recognise how braille has empowered visually impaired people across the globe. Here’s appreciating all of the pioneers who promoted standardised braille and economical production techniques. It’s thanks to all their efforts that braille is today more easily available than ever before, though we still have a long way to go in making all our information and spaces inclusive.
If braille was the first step towards academic inclusion and accessibility for visually impaired, then tactile graphics are the next step towards more complete access.
Tactile graphics help a blind person perceive images, pictures, diagrams, and understand concepts better. It goes beyond braille, which is largely textual information. We are working towards creatinginteractive tactile graphics for early learners, and are advocating its importance in building inclusive societies.Let’s begin to demand #MoreThanBraille for children with vision loss.
After several usability testing sessions with with very young children, we recognised the need to create introductory tactiles, where the focus would simply be on making children comfortable with tactile forms, textures and learn to interpret them with some guidance.
We also observed that many blind children respond enthusiastically to music, just like any sighted child. We decided to create a musically led introduction to basic tactile shapes. Our choice of nursery rhymes was based on whether there was a key element or character that we could represent as a tactile form, and whether the tactile would add value to children.
For example, itsy bitsy spider made for an excellent choice as an opportunity to introduce children to the interesting form of a spider. Just in this case, we refrained from adding detailed descriptions and leave room for the teacher/parent to focus on getting children to be curious about tactile textures and forms.
As a young team taking a product (which has been a couple years in the making) to market, there’s a lot of excitement in the air. Here’s a summary of our next steps, goals, and planned launches you can look forward to.
We’re working with the Education Ministry, supported by the State Innovation Cell, to create multi-sensory learning material for class I Math and language. These products will pilot in government supported blind schools in the state. We’re looking forward to the opportunity to build in close association with the government, and to learn as much about operations as we’ve learnt about creating learning resources.
Learn English Through Stories (LETS Project)
Supported by Tata Centre in IIT Bombay, and led by Prof. Alka Hingorani, LETS facilitates language learning in resource constrained environments. They’ve created a series of illustrated books and accompanying audio — recorded readings of the books set to original music. The Tactopus app delivers audio contextually as a reader flips through the books, keeping up with them. This way, a reader’s attention can remain on the beautiful illustrations and print text, while the supporting tech fades to the background of the experience.
The LETS team plans to pilot this learning system in community libraries in early 2019.
We intend to focus on early learning needs of children with or without disabilities, with emphasis on making the experience playful and engaging for all. We’re trying to achieve a balance of content, between a) curriculum-based learning objectives that schools and teachers will need, and b) content based on life-skills, such as maps and navigation, currency and monetary transactions, and travel. As always, we’re open to collaborating, so talk to us if you have any ideas we can co-create.
We’re hiring designers, developers and project managers to keep up with our plans in product development, sales and marketing.
Right at this moment, we have a software development intern from SASTRA University developing our next game. We’re working with teams in IIM Bangalore and IIM Calcutta, who are doing market research and price models for us. We recently hired a community manager who has experience working with disability rights, activism and has managed awareness campaigns in the past. The energy and enthusiasm we see in each of these people makes the founders’ passion pale in comparison 🙂
Check out our careers page for more details, and do share it with anybody who may be looking for such opportunities. Here are links to apply to open positions:
Back-end Software Development
Talk about Inclusion
In case you missed it, we’ve got tactile holiday cards that you can send out to start conversations about inclusion and accessibility. Wish you happy holidays!
It has been an incredible year for us, and we’d love to share some details and lots of gratitude.
The year started with a huge shift in product direction, from initially pursuing a hardware based solution, we moved to a smartphone app. The product intent remained staunchly the same — to provide an interactive audio-tactile learning experience for children, inclusive of those with visual impairment.
We’ve learnt along the way, that the experience we’ve created adds value to children with developmental delays and learning disabilities as well. The fact that it’s screen-free and texturally rich, makes it an indulgent multi-sensory learning product for any toddler or preschooler, with or without disabilities.
Here are some highlights from our fairly eventful year.
We’re now at a critical, exciting juncture. With the experience of having created content and commercially launched four products now, we have more confidence about addressing the learning needs of eager young minds.
It’s also been about a year of being associated with Social Alpha and Capital First, whose guidance and mentorship during this period pushed us through several iterations of business modelling. With continued seed and incubation support from the able teams, we’re looking forward to the coming years, bigger goals and more exciting challenges.