3D-printed braille maps to show students the way
Finding your way around an unfamiliarbuilding can be tricky for anyone, but its far more difficult forpeople with visual impairments. A pair of researchers at Rutgers University School of Engineeringcame up with a way of improving the situation for students at a training center for the blind and visually impaired in New Brunswick by 3D-printing detailed braille maps of the facility.
The maps were developed by Jason Kim, a senior mechanical engineering student, and Howon Lee, an assistant professor, for the state-funded Joseph Kohn Training Center. The Center provides blind and visually impaired students with free, 20-week training courses that give them the skills they'll need to attend college, secure jobs or become independent homemakers.
There are maps on the wallsof the facility to help its students get around, but they only feature limited braille labels, and their fixed nature severely limitstheir usefulness and convenience. Created by undergraduate Jason Kim andhis professor Howton Lee, the new 3D-printed maps would offer more convenience forstudents.
The maps themselves were designed usingSolidWorks 3D modelling computer-aided design (CAD) software, with one for each of the building's three floor. The maps are about the size of a tabletcomputer and are designed to be carried around in a single binder. They are also more durable than conventional braille printed on paper and feature a braille legend to help students betterunderstand the map.
The researchers have currently only produced asingle set of the maps, but are working to lower the cost ofproduction so that every student at the facility can have one.
On a broader scale, with 3D printers being much cheaper andmore convenient than ever before, there are few barriers to extendingthe idea beyond the facility. Already, the researchers have expressed interest in making similar productsfor Rutgers' campuses and the city of New Brunswick.
Source: Rutgers University