By Andrew Liszewski
A group of four mechanical engineering students at Johns Hopkins University have come up with a cheap hand-held braille writer as a result of a class project that challenged them to create such an instrument for under $50. Computer-based and even typewriter-style braille writers are typically far more expensive and far less portable than what these students were able to create.
The hand-held braille writer is completely mechanical and the students estimate the device will cost about $10 each if mass-produced. It uses 6 buttons that can be pressed to produce any of the embossed patterns that make up a braille letter, number or punctuation mark. The device is used with a traditional braille slate that has a series of rectangular cells that blind persons typically use a stylus with to punch up to 6 indentations one at a time. The student’s hand-held device can punch up to 6 marks at once which remarkably speeds up the braille writing process.