The First Tablet for the Blind

In a lot of cases, access to the digital world is, for people who are blind or visually impaired, only possible through assistive programmes.However, things are starting to change. Start up Blitab has created a tablet with a tactile screen.

Author Anna Rees, 02.17.15

In a lot of cases, access to the digital world is, for people who are blind or visually impaired, only possible through assistive programmes.However, things are starting to change. Start up Blitab has created a tablet with a tactile screen.

According to the World Health Organisation, there are currently 39 million blind people in the world and 285 million visually impaired people. Proper access to electronics such as smartphones, tablets or eReaders is rare given the lack of good alternatives to visual touchpads that accompany these devices while many of the assistive programmes currently available are not yet fully developed. Technical assistance programmes such as Braille Notetaker are expensive and some of the time, not very user friendly.

The startup Blitab Technology in Vienna has been working closely with the Hilfsgemeinschaft der Blinden und Sehschwachen Österreichs (Help Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired Austria) to come up with a new kind of tablet, replacing screens with small, physical bubbles to help realise text. The bubbles ‘pop up’ on the surface of the device like buttons, forming Braille, allowing the blind or visually impaired to understand what’s on the screen. The tablet does not just ‘read’ content, it also allows content to be produced while the device automatically configures content from an inserted USB or memory card into Braille. The developers are working on a GPS system that would add a navigation feature to the tablet.

Following a successful crowdfunding campaign, the project is currently in the prototype phase. We are looking forward to its release into the market!

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