“An Open source Braille embosser in the spirit of RepRap
A full documented and reproducible cheap DIY Braille embosser, with software ecosystem.
Based on a 3D printer board (MKS from Makerbase), BrailleRAP can emboss dots anywhere on a A4 sheet. you can use 160g paper, thin metal or plastic sheet.
The average total cost is about 250 $ if you purchase everything. The cheapest commercial solution is about 2500 $.
To emboss Braille text, you can use several software to translate text in Braille and send it to BrailleRAP, and you can also emboss SVG drawing.
BrailleRAP is open source, licensed under CERN Open Hardware Licence v1.2.
AccessBrailleRAP, our Braille translation software is licensed under GPL V3.
thanks to them we use several open source project :
- Marlin firmware (GPL V3)
- LibLouis (GPL V2.1)
- Eel (MIT)
- Music21 (BSD)
- React.js (MIT)
- NatBraille (GPL V2)
- pandoc (GPL V2)
- Printrun / Pronterface (GPL V3)
- purecss (Yahoo BSD)
Why a Braille embosser
According to the World Health Organization there is 45 millions peoples living in the world with visual impairment. It’s hard to get good statistics but many countries estimate that only 10% of people with visual impairment read and use Braille. But according to the same statistics 90% of blind people who are employed read and write Braille. So Braille is an important subject for education and equality.
You can get more info about the subject here https://brailleworks.com/braille-literacy-statistics/ and here https://brailleworks.com/braille-literacy-vital-academic-improvement-employment/
In rich country this would not be an issue as there is commercial solutions, the reality is not as bright as we can think, there is still an issue with general accessibility in most rich countries. Open source can be one aspect of the solution, not just because it is cheap, but because it is build together, this is about sharing and building solutions all together. Sometimes the super market at the corner don’t have the right solution.
And what about countries where the average salary is about 2000$ a year. In these countries what about a rural school where there is just one or two students affected by blindness. Who will pay a year of wages for a solution. And again this is not just because open source is cheap :
- You have the schematics you can fix it.
- I you have build one in a workshop, you know how to fix it if something go wrong or you know who can fix it.
- You have the schematics, so you can adapt it to your needs, even upcycling or recycling some parts you got around. And if you adapt it, you can share.
- There is open source communities, so you can find some help.
And now that we have talk about accessibility, what about teaching technologies. What about teaching that sometimes technologies can really help people, that building a tool is not just a mind exercise. Building a tool is about making choices, what is the best solution if you need it cheap ? what is the best solution if you need it easy to build ? easy to use ? fixable ? accessible ? moveable ? And it can be fun and satisfying.”