The TouchPad Pro Foundation (TPPF), a brand new 501c3 nonprofit focused on blindness, launched in early December 2021 to serve the disability community. TPPF’s mission is to ‘develop and distribute revolutionary products to children who are blind or have low vision (BLV) and provide these products to those who cannot afford them at low to no cost.’ The nonprofit launched on December 3rd to coincide with International Day of People with Disabilities, a day of activism and raising awareness for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities.
Quick Facts regarding the BLV community:
- Only 32% graduate high school
- Fewer than 16% graduate college
- A staggering 70% are unemployed
How Important is Braille?
Of those who are employed, an astounding 85% are braille literate. But, unfortunately, according to the National Federation for the Blind: “Only about 10% of blind children are currently learning it.” Also, less than 10% of adults know braille. During the pandemic, braille instruction has been even more challenging, and this points out a great need worldwide.
These appalling statistics inspired Daniel Lubiner to invent a new product called the BrailleDoodle. Mr. Lubiner is a 25-year veteran teacher of students with disabilities and a teacher of the arts for BLV students. Now he is leading a diverse team including engineers, mobility specialists and educators both with and without sight. Mr. Lubiner states, “Our hope is to develop and distribute the BrailleDoodle as soon as possible. Most Braille-related products are outdated and too expensive for most. The BrailleDoodle is an inexpensive, safe and simple solution.”
The BrailleDoodle is an accessible take on the Etch-a-Sketch that allows the blind to touch what they are drawing. A simple plastic ‘Braille Sleeve’ slips over the device and acts as a stencil, creating dozens of braille cells, giving instructors the ability to teach braille remotely.
The world needs to get to a point where society is fully inclusive and accessible for people with disabilities. Although many factors are at play, learning braille is crucial for success in education and employment for the BLV community. Jacqueline Becker, a Braille Specialist, states, “As a TVI for over 33 years, I am very excited at the prospect of being able to work with the BrailleDoodle. The device’s durability and affordability mean that it can be purchased for in-school use and for many of my students who continue to be remote learners. I look forward to using it!”