Blindness is a common disability in Colombia. In 2013, approximately 1.300.000 people had this disability and the vast majority of them lived in poorness (RCN Radio, 2013). It is necessary that they learn Braille system for their proper incorporation in society and their rehabilitation, so they have access to written knowledge. In this project, it was designed and constructed a didactic and electronic board for the learning of Braille with a game.
Braille is a writing and reading system created by Louis Braille, who was visually impaired since age five (Jiménez, Olea, Torres, Harder & Konstanze , 2009). The Braille system is used for blind people so they can contact their written environment and consists of an array of 6 points arranged in a matrix of 3 rows by 2 columns . Thus, each letter of the alphabet is represented by different combinations of the points of the settlement .
In Colombia it was estimated that , in 2010, there were about 1’134 , 085 people with any visual disability and in Antioquia, about 24 of each 1,000 people suffers from some visual limitation ( El Colombiano, 2010). according to RCN Radio (2013 ) for 2013 the amount of blind people in Colombia increased to 1’300 , 000, and only 2 % of this population has technology access and 82 % of them live in poverty.
For people with this type of limitations is essential to learn the Braille and learning this can be tedious due to the monotony of the system . The games have been a great tool as teaching methods ( Hair, 2011) so as to maintain a high concentration of the children in the learning process.
In the literature, few applications in games for Braille learning were found and, knowing the needs of this population in Medellín, the design and construction of a device that allows the learning of Braille in early stages was developed.
The Braille alphabet was created by Louis Braille in France in the nineteenth century ( Jimenez , Olea, Torres, Harder, & Konstanze , 2009). Since then life for blind people has changed in an important way , giving them access to education and written knowledge . Students with visual impairment learn to read and write using the Braille system. Their tactile capabilities suit the structure of this language. It is not only to teach Braille as an isolated technique, but it is guide the Braille language as a strategy to access information and knowledge ( Ministerio de Educación , 2006).
One of the problems of learning for children with vision problems is the lack of staff to assess their rehabilitation and education ( Huebner & Wiener , 2001 ) . The possibility of teach and rehabilitate using teaching methods of Braille system that do not require constant participation of a professional is important, allowing more children to learn at the same time, and reducing the imbalance that exists between people with vision problems and professionals related to that area. Furthermore, one of the major problems for teaching any language
is the focus given to teaching it . In children , ” the learning is facilitated when it involves didactic models , based on tactile perception that activate learning devices , languages and
prior knowledge , using teaching resources for all students and must meet some specifications as being consistent , simple , no hurt to the touch, pleasant , facilitators in imaging development and coherent with the main goal of the teaching ” (Ministerio de Educación , 2006). This is mainly because a child is completely different to a adult when learning, having a mind that absorbs all environment information ( Hair, 2011).
Therefore, all children learn in an active and practical way , trying to do things for themselves. Furthermore, games facilitate the integration of the child in society ( Hair, 2011). An example of such games is a set of cubic building blocks, each block presents a letter and its corresponding symbol in Braille , which allows the child to build words with
blocks or play with touch and surfaces ( Whitfield , 1993 ) . Other example of these teaching methods is a base with a series of setoffs in which bricks with letters written in Braille can be
accommodated ( Murphy , 1989) . These may be set in order to form words and sentences while playing to accommodate these bricks properly . While having fun , the child is more
likely to want to repeat what has been learning , and will tend to consider that practice is a interesting and good activity to spend time.
Create systems similar to those available market with much lower cost implies improving solutions for people experiencing visual impairment within the country as well as encourage the integration of these people in society.
Materials and Methods
For the design of the game TikitiDots. the resolution 3158 of 2007 describing the rules for construction of toys in Colombia, was taken into account (Resolución 3158, 2007 ) . Given such regulation, design of the case was made in SolidEdge ® . In this case the system is to be contained ( Figure 1 ) .
The system consists of seven buttons and two switches. Six of the buttons are the different points of Braille array and the remaining corresponds the button ” Enter” . The two switches are to start and stop the game and to select the mode of use. Each button is linked to a 4 LED lights and vibration set, so that each time the user select the button lights turn on and the motor vibrates. Thus persons with visual impairment able to identify lights will have feedback, as well as all users have the vibrational feedback when they press the button.
The system also delivers an audible feedback each time a button is pressed ( Figure 2) and the letter the user has entered according to the combination pressed. The system has 3 modes of play:
1. Mode 1 : piano mode. In this mode whenever the user presses one of the buttons, a note will sound according to the note related to the button (Figure 2) . When the user presses the
button “Enter”, the system will play the last 20 notes the user has entered.
2 . Mode 2: Challenge mode. In this mode the dictation system performs a random of different letters from the alphabet. The user must enter the combination that corresponds to the
letter issued . The system tells the user if the entered combination is correct or not. Combinations must match the Braille alphabet (Figure 3) .
3 . Mode 3: study mode. The user enters a combination and the system informs the letter the user has entered if it corresponds to one of the Braille combinations.
After the system was design, it was constructed. The box was produced in Acrylic with 4 mm thickness using laser machine available in the School of Engineering of Antioquia. The final product is shown in Figure 4 . Furthermore, the system was programmed using Arduino platform and the user manual, game instructions and maintaining instructions were written.
The final model has dimensions of 40 cm x 40 cm x 9.9 cm . For operation requires a connection to 110 volts AC . It is made especially for the blind they are starting the process of
To develop this project, the needs of a specific population according to information provided by Multis Foundation were taken into account. Therefore, it is expected to cover all perceived needs and exceed the expectations of a game for this foundation.
After the development of the product, the usefulness of using teaching tools for this type of applications is verified and even more if includes electrical and electronic solutions for making the product more appealing to children and youth. It is also important to note that the game not only serves people in situations of visual impairment but people without such disabilities, allowing integration between the two populations and generating bounds between users.
Conclusions – Developing this product has proven that games are essential to provide different learning opportunities, in this case , the Braille system. The application is important in the rehabilitation of people with visual disabilities.
As biomedical engineers, we have lots of tools to facilitate the rehabilitation process and social inclusion of the visually impaired , taking advantage of their other senses and stimulating their development so they can have a full life in society.
It is noteworthy that software and systems tools for developing applications Arduino , which is also an open platform, make the construction and development of this type of products simpler, less time-consuming and more efficient, allowing the development to be more agile and efficient.
Additionally, the area of electronic products for rehabilitation can be exploited in a big way. There are very few electronics found in the literature to solve similar problems as the problem that has been introduced in this project.
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