Good Thinking

New tactile reading system may be better than braille

New tactile reading system may...
ELIA Frames can reportedly be learned in three hours
ELIA Frames can reportedly be learned in three hours
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ELIA Frames is actually a font consisting of raised characters that can be felt by the fingertips, each character representing an individual letter (or number) from the widely-used Roman alphabet
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ELIA Frames is actually a font consisting of raised characters that can be felt by the fingertips, each character representing an individual letter (or number) from the widely-used Roman alphabet
ELIA Frames can reportedly be learned in three hours
2/2
ELIA Frames can reportedly be learned in three hours

According to Brooklyn-based ELIA Life Technology, less than one percent of visually-impaired people can read braille. It's notoriously difficult to master, with users reportedly taking up to 10 months to learn the alphabet. The company's new ELIA Frames system, however, can apparently be learned in just three hours.

Working with his mother, CEO Andrew Chepaitis was inspired to create the system when his grandmother started losing her sight, and found braille too hard to learn.

ELIA Frames is actually a font consisting of raised characters that can be felt by the fingertips, each character representing an individual letter (or number) from the widely-used Roman alphabet. Surrounding every character is an outer "frame," so users can easily tell where one character ends and the next begins.

Within those frames are specific elements unique to each letter, that are based upon the way that letter looks. This makes sense, as the majority of blind people were born sighted, so will likely be familiar with the appearance of letters. Additionally, this factor allows fully- and partially-sighted people to visually read the font with little training, as its characters are based on the letters that they already know.

ELIA Frames is actually a font consisting of raised characters that can be felt by the fingertips, each character representing an individual letter (or number) from the widely-used Roman alphabet
ELIA Frames is actually a font consisting of raised characters that can be felt by the fingertips, each character representing an individual letter (or number) from the widely-used Roman alphabet

As an added bonus, the font works in any size. By contrast, braille can only be printed in one standard size, as the size of the spaces between the dots holds meaning.

Chepaitis and his collaborators have so far been using a customized printer to create ELIA Frames documents. They hope to develop a commercial version of the printing technology, however, so that people everywhere can create them.

To that end, they've recently turned to Kickstarter to raise development funds. In the current campaign, a pledge of US$25 will get you an ELIA Frames silicone keyboard overlay, suitable for use with Apple computers. Learning kits are available for higher amounts.

The system is demonstrated in the following video.

Sources: ELIA, Kickstarter

ELIA Instruct

5 comments
highlandboy
Before Braille, books for the blind were made with embossed letters. Reading speed was slow and writing required special bulky equipment. This system still appears to have both these
Brian M
Yes nice idea - Especially as Braille really is not natural to those loosing their sight in later life. Lot better to base a system on a familiar system. The only thing I would suggest is to print the actual normal letter as well. People who have failing vision can then start using the system with their current reading, the system helping then over the normal letters they can't quite make out and transit fully to this system as their vision worsens. Hope it succeeds
JenniferPage
Pointless. Supply granny with a cheap tablet and broadband and the software to speak the print. Dozens of audio books out there as well. She can also use Siri or similar to dictate. When I broke my arm I used Siri a lot. Also the screen can enlarge the print so if some vision is there granny can find her way around enough to bring up the book and the speak software herself. Sound quality on most tablets, laptops excellent these days. I am quite deaf but manage very well.
fb36
Imagine a handheld device that kind of looks like a smartphone. But, instead of a regular screen pixels, it has extremely tiny metal bars/pins that can change height. Imagine user puts the device on any page with text and/or images and those bars/pins readjust their heights according to brightness of text/image points underneath (thus converting 2d text/image to 3d).
Marlen
@fb36 Look up the Tixel (tactile pixel). I am still waiting for it to be integrated into modern electronics.