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Assistive Technology for Blindness and Low Vision, Reimanaged! 

             National Federation for the Blind- “44 percent of the Braille-reading group, as compared to 77 percent of the print-reading group, were unemployed. Despite the undisputed value of braille, only about 10 percent of blind children in the United States are currently learning it. Society would never accept a 10 percent literacy rate among sighted children; it should not accept such an outrageously low literacy rate among the blind.”


The Braille Cloud

Patent Pending

COMING SOON - The Braille Cloud 2.0 - 

Autonomous Braille Instruction for Adults


                The Braille Cloud, as pictured above, is child-friendly, assistive technology designed for the independent, classroom, and distance learning of braille. The Braille cloud is in an attractive and fun cloud shape with rounded sides. From beginner letters and phonics to more advanced reading and writing, the Braille Cloud will offer a way for the autonomous learning of braille. Current braille learning devices lack a braille keyboard that forms braille characters while providing a way to learn and form the characters. Some devices have pieces that can be dropped and lost and lack an example of standard-sized braille. The Braille Cloud solves these problems and offers useful new features.


                The line of large braille cells along the bottom, and standard braille cells at the center are commonly known as Refreshable braille cells. Refreshable braille consists of a series of electronically-driven pins that pop up to form braille characters. Braille displays and note-takers, devices that utilize a line of refreshable braille, have become the prevailing piece of assistive technology for braille readers. The Braille Cloud would allow young children to begin to learn braille while gaining an understanding of how to use the braille displays and note-takers that adults use. The Braille Cloud will offer a head start in learning to use devices that will play a significant role in their future in both education and employment.


                A Perkins-style braille keyboard is made for smaller hands. A child could use the keyboard to learn the proper combination of keys to press to form a letter, word, or sentence. The child will receive auditory feedback from speakers or through a headphone jack. The braille version of a letter would be electronically displayed in the jumbo refreshable braille cell, and the standard-sized braille cell simultaneously. Haptics, vibration motors, are placed within keyboard keys to help guide fingers to the correct keys. As pictured, there are eleven large and corresponding standard braille cells, but that number may vary.


             To elaborate, whatever is displayed on the jumbo refreshable braille cells will be displayed on the standard-sized cells. For example, the learner could key in the letter 'A,' hear audio feedback like the sound 'A' makes, and feel the braille 'A' in both the large and standard cells. Illustrated on the large and standard braille are letters 'a' through 'k.' Small ridges separate the large braille cell so that the early learner can distinguish one braille cell from the next.


             The Braille Cloud will have games built right into the system to reinforce braille learning. Games will have happy sounds, and encouraging human voice and automatic changes to the letters. “Find the letter,” “Match that Sound,” “Spelling Bee,” “Hangman” type games can be among some games that will be available. A game type controller with clear up, down, right, left, and a select button, center, is useful to toggle through options or the next line or word


             A microphone would allow users to record sounds or words to correspond with specific actions. This ability to record sounds and letters will also allow for The Braille Cloud to become multi-lingual. It could also activate a ‘talk to text’ (in this case, ‘Talk-to-Braille’) option with the button next to the microphone so that the user could say a word or letter and have it appear in braille on the refreshable braille cells. 


             Voice commands will also prove valuable with voice-recognition and AI software, like that of 'Siri' or 'Alexa' is incorporated in the device. This will provide another form of the independent, self-correcting, learning of braille. For example, a learner could say, "Cloud, let's play hangman," or, "Cloud, show me the word 'excellent.'"


             The upper row of large braille cells allows the student to create braille characters. These ‘MagnaBraille’ cells use only a magnetic stylus and tiny metal or magnetized tactile elements. The magnetic stylus is attached to The Braille Cloud by a retractable cord and stored in the built-in storage area. The magnetic stylus allows users to make braille letters, numbers, words, and short sentencesErasing could be accomplished with a finger or the top or side of the stylus. In this way, the learner can mimic the braille letters formed in the lower lines. Learning by doing is considered among the most effective way of instruction. Sensors in the jumbo magnetic braille cells can effectively translate to the on-board computer and app what letters are being formed by the user. The user can then receive direct and immediate feedback from the instructor or the device itself.


The Braille Cloud App

             Another essential feature of The Braille Cloud is that it also linked to a ‘Braille Cloud App.’ Able to connect via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, its applications will be designed so an instructor can remotely guide the user through the different features and games. For example, an instructor can input a word or letter for a learner to decode right from their device: phone, tablet, or computer. Or the instructor could ask the learner to use the keyboard to input get feedback immediately on his or her device for correcting. An instructor can also begin a game for the learner and play along right. A simple diagram of the Braille Cloud can appear on the instructor’s screen to receive immediate feedback about which keys are pressed and what braille pins are displayed. An instructor could even activate haptics within the keys to guide the learner's hands to the right keys.


            Currently, distance learning has become necessary in places all over the world, and it seems as though instruction, as we know it, may be affected indefinitely. Therefore, a device such as the Braille Cloud, and its corresponding app, would fulfill an urgent need. It is also designed to be enjoyable and toy-like. There is nothing like a motivated student who is learning as they play.


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