Jim Ballard – Paper Embossment, Braille and Text as a teaching aid for the visually impaired.

Jim submitted multiple ideas to the competiton, ulitmately winning two. However the one he has focused on is the one bringing the world of arts and learning to the visual impared.

Description of the idea: Paper Embossment, Braille, and Text as a teaching aid for visually-impaired or blind children and adults, this software-driven desktop machine will combine three steps: creating a paper embossment, adding braille, and writing text on a single pass. The proposed solution is a computer driven paper cutter and embosser. It has a holder that accepts a pen or marker. This machine can emboss and draw or print text onto paper without removing the sheet. The embossing heads, however, are not the correct size for producing braille. A machinist could modify the 2.00 mm head to 1.44 mm. The required braille height of 0.48 mm could be controlled by the machine’s software.

An update from Jim on this project:

Winning the second place award for my idea of increasing the speed at which I could make detailed paper embossments for the blind community (Bothell award) has been fruitful. The specific machine I had hoped to modify hasn’t worked yet, but I discovered an already existing machine that has speeded up this process. I was able to borrow a heavy-duty etching press which creates deep embossments in paper quite quickly by simply rolling a wooden template and moistened paper under an adjustable steel roller. I’ve made a number of new pages for a braille/embossment book of dinosaurs. (See photos below). 

An etching press that speeds up the making of paper embossments:

Sample panels of the dinosaur braille/embossment book are shown below. Braille will be placed on the front and back of each panel so that each panel is complete by itself and can be removed from the 3-ring binder. Danielle Miller, director of the Washington Talking Book and Braille Library, when seeing these early pages, said the book looks “Fabulous” (everyone seems to be using this word) and looks forward to adding it to her library.
These are the dinosaurs that will be part of the book:

Panels of the nine dinosaurs:

Braille will be added to the front and back of each panel:

A closeup of a T-Rex dinosaur embossment:

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