Archive for October, 2010|Monthly archive page

Embossing before Braille: A “Did You Know” PSA

Did you know…

Page from ''Essay on the Education of Blind Children'' by Valentin Hauy

Page from ''Essay on the Education of Blind Children'' by Valentin Hauy (1786). Translation of the excerpt is as follows: Essay on the Education of Blind Children. Chapter 1. Aim of the Institute. Before providing an explanation of our Institute.... Image and translation via American Foundation for the Blind.

…that before Louis Braille brilliantly invented Braille, a condensed adaptation of a popular military form of communication in the battlefield called “night writing,” humanitarian and founder of the Royal Institution for the Young Blind in Paris (now the National Institute for the Young Blind), Valentin Haüy, had actually developed the first way to teach reading and writing to the blind.

Haüy had become particularly passionate about aiding the blind after witnessing the cruel and viscious teasing of an ensemble of inhabitants from the Quince-Vingts hospice for the blind by townspeople during the religious street festival “Sant Ovid’s Fair.” The blind were given dunce caps and oversized cardboard glasses and told to play their instruments, which resulted and a raucous cacophony of noises.

Haüy opened the world of written language to the blind by adapting the technique of embossing to a more permanent quality. Through embossing, text was raised on the paper and pressed against copper wire to retain their shape. This method was costly and time consuming to make, so publishers would put together in large volumes a collection of stories in a single volume binding to save on cost. This made the books quite heavy, sometimes weighing over a hundred pounds.

Haüy’s school had just three of these massive tomes of published works. Louis Braille read all of them.

Physical Therapy Assistant students learn wheelchairs firsthand

Today two of our staff members got to sit in on a demonstration and lecture given to our Physical Therapy Assistant (PTA) students by James, a local Rehabilitation Engineer for BarnesHealthcare.

James showed off some of the newest models of lightweight Rigid Wheelchairs from Quickie, the different options in wheels and armrests, and discussed some of the details and considerations that go into choosing the best wheelchair and accessories options for patients in physical therapy. He also demonstrated a model of fully reclining chair often used for cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, and newly injured spinal cord injury patients in hospital/hospice care.

BarnesHealthcare Demo PTA Lab

BarnesHealthcare Rehab Engineer, James, gives lecture and demo to Physical Therapy Assistant students at GCCC. Photo courtesy Tamara Nguyen.

The image above was taken while James demonstrated the use of a machine which Rehab Engineers use for rapid prototyping of custom contoured cushions. He explained the necessity to create a chair that “touches” as much of the patient’s body as possible, important for both comfort, prevention of injury, and aid in the prevention of pressure sores. No patients were harmed in the demonstration, though the willing PTA student did get a thumbs up from one of her classmates for creating a well formed contour mold.

James also brought with him Sam, the local representative for Permobil, one of the industry’s most internationally recognized and used wheelchair, powerchair, and assistive devices manufacturer and distributors.

Guest lectures and demonstrations like this are just one of the many ways that Gulf Coast Community College sets themselves apart from other colleges in their endeavors to provide the most academically challenging and diverse education possible.

Thought of the day

thought bubble

''Every one has a handicap.''
NO matter who coined the phrase, the validity of it is true for us all.
Whether our handicaps are physical or mental, each one of us is limited in one way or another. Failure to recognize such a fact dehumanizes even the best of people.''

Gull's Cry, 11 October 1984

DeafNation Expo

DeafNation logoThe final DeafNation World Expo for 2010 will be held November 6th in Chicago, IL., at the Wellness and Sports Center at Harper College.

DeafNation is the foremost touring trade show for, by, and about deaf people. DeafNation provides exhibitions and entertainment around the U.S. at no charge to the public to encourage diversity, shared culture, needs, language, and information.

DeafNation hosts 10-15 Expos annually, and sees an average attendance of 500,000.

To register for the upcoming Chicago visit of the DeafNation Expo, visit, or click here.

DeafNation app for iPhone and AndroidDates and locations for next year’s trade expos can also be found on the official DeafNation Expo website.

And for interested iPhone and Android users, there is a FREE! DeafNation app you can download for your phone.

A Touch of Color

Earlier this spring (May) we wrote about blind artist John Bramblitt after he appeared in a CBS Dallas news special featuring his remarkable, textural paintings (read the post here).

Now meet this neat concept gadget, the Touch Color. From designers Yun Li, Guopeng Liang, and Ke Zhao, the Touch Color is the combination of a thermal digital tablet and a rainbow color picking ring which allows a blind person to paint colorful pictures with their finger across the tablet.

Touch Color

Touch Color concept gadget. Image via Yanko Design.

The 24 colors on the rings are differentiated by Braille, for the user, and varied temperature generated by the embedded LED bulbs. The user can then paint on the thermal art tablet by using their fingers, and the thermal-color display technology keeps track of the lines and colors the artist is using. Below are more images of the concept gadget and its features:

Touch Color Picker

The Touch Color color picker. 24 color sectors are located on the scroll wheel according to their hues. They are marked by abbreviated Braille dots and further differentiated by varied temperature, generated by various micro-voltages.

Touch Color color picker function

Capture a scene and get the color. Spin the wheel and choose a heartful color. Coloe is transmitted to the tablet. Draw with the color. Colors emerge on the tablet with thermal technology. Feel the contrast in thermal and show others your heartful creation. Some colors are regarded as cold, while others warm, according to physical wavelength, the characteristics of the perceiving eye and brain. Also, the concept of colors can be affected by individual's experience and its association.

Touch Color Tablet

Touch Color thermal technology tablet.

Touch Color Thermal Art Board

Touch Color Thermal Art Board. User can paint on the board with fingers, and keep track of outline and color filling by thermal-color display technology. User can also save, delete, transfer the picture and switch between learning mode and drawing mode through a set of buttons with audio aid. Above images all via Yanko Design.

Braille Polaroid Camera

One of the members of our DSS staff is a huge photo journaling junkie. In fact, the journaling junkie happens to be the one who writes these posts. In any case, photos are a huge part of this junkie’s life and imagines that to some degree its a large part of everyone’s life. Even if you’re the “only on holiday’s” convert or the “I will photograph every minunte of my entire day’s life, of every day, for every day of my existence” fanatic (you know who you are and now thanks to Facebook so does everybody else), photos convey the moments of our life in visual representations. How we then catalog, archive, and view those moments is creatively individual.

Braille Polaroid Camera

Braille Polaroid Camera. Image via red-dot design.

But what do the blind do for photographs? Is the art of scrapbooking lost to them? Do they take photographs and let others around them recount each one in detail to them? Do they make descriptive pop-up bubbles brought to textual life with braille instead of handwriting? And lets say with all that solved, is the art and beauty of the photograph still unattainable if you can’t actually see the image?

Now, what if that photograph could be seen…only…in braille.

Braille Polaroid Camera

Braille Polaroid Camera.

The Braille Polaroid Camera, by designers Son Seunghee, Lee Sukyung, and Kim Hyunsoo, has a built-in braille printer, and is designed for the visually impaired to record and print the world around them in braille!

The camera itself has been designed to resemble most other cameras, only the built-in printer immediately prints the image after the shot in braille. The images then recorded can be felt by the visually impaired individual, allowing them to “see” the world around them and the moments they have captured. It is also safe to collect the braille photographs in albums.

Currently the Braille Polaroid Camera is a concept design and was the 2008 winner for the reddot design award.

Sign Voice Language Translator

So a blind man and a deaf guy walk into a bar…

Sound like a bad joke? It probably was. But designers Han-na Lee and Sang Hyeon saw it as an opportunity.

Their brilliant idea turned into a developing concept for a communication device that helps both the hearing impaired and the visually impaired to communicate with one another. Dubbed the Sign Voice Language Translator (SVLT), the device helps a blind and deaf persons interact by acting as a translator that converts gestures to voice and audio signals/voice into written text.

Sign Voice Language Translator

Sign Voice Language Translator. Images via Yanko Design

The concept gadget is a portable device that incorporates a camera to record the sign language gestures and an LCD touch screen that displays text to the hearing impaired, and speakers in the other device that delivers in audio the converted version of sign language gestures to the visually impaired. The gadget, which is actually two gadets (one for each user) work together as a system, each connected to the other via Bluetooth.

The images below are more product model images displaying the gadgets and demonstrating how they work:

Sign Voice Language Translator

Sign Voice Language Translator. A small camera records the sign language gestures and converts them into written text on an LCD touch screen.

Sign Voice Language Translator

Sign Voice Language Translator

They can be aware of each other and receive language sign by using Bluetooth.

Sign Voice Language Translator

When the hearing impaired communicate with the visually impaired.

Sign Voice Language Translator

When the hearing impaired interact with the hearing. All images used in this post via Yanko Design.

Picture of the day: Braille map of Paris metro

Braille map Paris metro

Person touches a braille map of the Paris metro, 11 June 2008. Image via

Braille Wallpaper

Braille wallpaper

Braille wallpaper by Ilias Fotopoulos. Image via

Can you guess what the image to the left is? If the image reminded you of Braille, then you’re half way there. If you thought, “Hmmm…that would look fantastic as wallpaper,” then you, my friend, have a designers’ heart.

The image is actually both braille and wallpaper. Simply named “Braille wallpaper,” from designer Ilias Fotopoulos, it is part of the Braille Project, which aims to collaborate with culturally diverse and visually impaired artists and writers to publish their work in braille as 3-dimensional, readable wallpaper using a varity of 3-dimensional media.

But that’s just the project’s physical properties. The project’s deeper meaning is to question notions of decoration, publishing, accessibility of design and interaction of the observer through the universal language of 3-dimensional braille. The project itself questions “is design really accessible to all?”

As Fotopoulos explains:

It will examine design accessibility through role reversal — a visually impaired person will be able to touch the wallpaper and read the story where as sighted observers will remain observers of a tactile pattern that they will touch and feel through its 3 dimensionality. It will be sighted people who are excluded from the language of the design created — a role they are usually unaccustomed to and which visually impaired people must deal with on a daily basis. [Source]

Braille wallpaper

Image via Google search.

From an artist’s stand point, the project also examines the process of design itself. Normally, the artist controls the content of their art; they control the design, the effect, the properties, their interaction with space and form and the elements around the piece. In the Braille wallpaper, the braille is an entity unto itself; it breathes a life of its own through which the only control the artist actually has is the coloration of the dots themselves. Apart from that, there can be no other manipulation. So, like the pattern the braille constructs in telling the story or not, it really is of no control by the artist. Essentially, the designer and observer may like the story but hate the pattern, or may even like the pattern but dislike the story.

Fotopoulos has an unerring hope that the project will “raise the profile of visual impairment and of visually impaired people as members of society, as artists, writers, musicians etc. And to ultimately create a system of mass produced braille signage and labelling for store fonts, supermarkets and the like.”

And, in case you were wondering, the Braille wallpaper does actually tell a story; it is “Listen and Record” by writer Juro Osawa.You can read the short story here.

Fotopoulos is currently holding a competition for the next story to be published in his Braille wallpaper. Those interested in entering the compeition may submit their story in the form provided here. There is a 300-word limit, but the story may be as short as one word.

Panama City Zombie Walk…just doing their part to support a little brain cancer

Looking for a little fun this upcoming holiday weekend. Why not kickoff the spooky shenanigans with some zombie fun at this Friday night’s Panama City Zombie Walk.

Toronto Zobmbie Walk

Toronto, Canada, Zombie Walk. Image via Google search.

While new to the area, Zombie Walks are an organized public gathering of people who dress up in zombie costumes and participants make their way around the city streets shambling through shopping malls and other public spaces in a somewhat orderly fashion. Though most are organized events, every once in a while some “zombies” are known to host spontaneous “flash mob” events. You can read more on the beginnings of Zombie Walks in this Wikipedia article, but simply surfing the internet will take you to countless organization websites, forums, and image galleries of zombie walks around the world.

The first, of what hopes to become an annual event, Panama City Zombie Walks will begin at 4:30 pm at Down Town Panama City, Florida. Participants–those who want to dress up and do a little shambling–will meet at the Marina Civic Center. If you just want to watch all the shambling fun, the mob will walk from the Civic Center down through the center of Down Town on Harrison Avenue.

For more information on the walk, visit Panama City Zombie Walk’s official Facebook page.

This will also be a charity event, so event coordinators will be accepting can food donations and/or monetary donations toward “Brain Cancer”. Silly Zombies.

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