Date of Award
Master of Science
Department or Academic Unit
College of Engineering, Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering
mechanical engineering, braille, compact, economical, embossing, printing, transcribing
The invention of the braille transcribing system in 1821 facilitated rapid reading and writing by blind individuals, vastly improving literacy rates among the blind. However, by the 1980's braille literacy plummeted to 10% among blind individuals, due to underfunded schools being unable to hire braille teachers and afford specialized equipment facilitating rapid braille transcription. This drop in literacy rates is alarming, considering that of blind adults in the United States, 90% of the braille literate are employed, while only 33% of the braille illiterate are employed. This lack of literacy has led to a decline of poetry and literature output in the blind community. Of the existing braille transcribing methods on the market today, there is no low cost, portable braille transcribing device for use in educational settings to encourage braille literacy among blind youth. The proposed printing head is mechatronic based, utilizing a linear motor actuator to accommodate an easy writing experience for the blind in an ergonomic, portable, and inexpensive manner. The feasibility and design of this writing device was shaped by the input of potential blind users and the staff at the National Braille Press and National Federation of Blind. The printing head itself is a mere 50mm x 44.5mm x 21.75mm at maximum dimensions, smaller than most cell phones. Variable tolerance actuation allows the printing head to form between one and six braille dimples in a single motion, facilitating rapid braille transcription. This is accomplished using one actuator and an array of six blocking devices engaged by the user, in contrast to most braille transcribing devices that utilize six actuators (one per braille dimple location), drastically reducing size, cost and weight. The device is capable of forming high quality braille dimples consistent with dimples formed by the slate and stylus transcribing method. FEA analysis was conducted to verify the robustness of the design. Manufacturing costs were kept to a minimum by constructing the device with only five unique parts. Finally, future design recommendations for printing head translation from cell to cell of braille and printing head translation from row to row of braille cells are presented.
Matthew David Ouellette
Ouellette, Matthew David, "Low cost, compact braille printing head for use in a handheld braille transcribing device" (2011). Mechanical Engineering Master's Theses. Paper 41. http://hdl.handle.net/2047/d20001224
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