We work with Bridge2Africa, an organization based in Johannesburg, South Africa that focuses on improving the lives of South Africans through technology. Justice Gumbochuma, our connection to Bridge2Africa has asked us to focus on assistive technology for blind students in South Africa. Without the necessary skills to perform in both educational and workplace settings, people who are blind cannot perform the best that they can.
The Blind South African Population have extreme difficulty finding job opportunities, given the unemployment rate nearing 97%. On the educational side, the modernization of the workforce prohibits blind workers from effectively using complex devices, especially when trying to access the internet. This occurs largely from younger students not having the exposure to this technology when learning Braille. The Sibonile School for the Blind has requested an assistive device that will allow students who are blind to navigate the internet using Braille.
The proposed solution for this problem involves a two-prong approach to using the internet without any visual stimuli. On the software side, text on a web page is translated to Braille in a format that is simple to navigate and avoids information that is superfluous to the non-visual user. The hardware side displays the Braille on a refreshable display, and takes in inputs that allow the user to navigate the internet. We currently have working prototypes on the software side, with changes being made to how a user might run the software as an executable, as well as working in tandem with a screen reader. With regards to the hardware, the signal chain has been designed in entirety, and needs to be implemented with the solenoid driving portion of the hardware. PCBs have been designed for both and need to be soldered, tested, and integrated into each other.