According to the the American Printing House for the Blind (APH), there are approximately 60,393 U.S. children in educational settings who are legally blind, but only 10 percent of blind school age children are reported as braille readers. When a group of teens learned about this, they were surprised, and this inspired them to create an app that helps visually impaired children learn braille.
“We were very very shocked, that’s like saying only one of us over team of ten knows how to read which is very shocking to everybody,” one of the co-founders said.
The group of young developers is comprised of 10 12- to 15-year-old teens from an Aurora school in Ontario. Their app, Treasure Box Braille, makes visually impaired children go through a story, and is designed to announce words and letters aloud while it constructs the phrase in braille on the simulator box, with the user feeling the braille pop out of the simulator box. Therefore, the children are able to feel the way the sound is spelled on the device.
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The young developers received a $10,000 global innovation award in order to continue development of their app while they receive mentorship from the Digital Media Zone, a business incubator at Ryerson University. They are also being trained by CNIB, a voluntary, non-profit rehabilitation agency that provides services for people who are visually impaired, and other organizations. Students from York University are also helping the group in developing the braille box.
As young as they may be, these entrepreneurs are developing something that can be of great help to children who are visually impaired. Their project has also made a community of people come together to help the program be successful. With all the help and support they are receiving, the young entrepreneurs are hoping to launch the braille box by 2017.
Watch CityNews Toronto‘s feature on the app below.