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Tactile Braille tablet brings pictures and content to life over 14 lines

A Braille tablet computer, thought to be the first of its kind available to the public, is about to be launched with a series of potentially game-changing features.

BLITAB is a tactile tablet computer designed for blind and visually impaired users, claimed to be the first such tablet by its developers. The design features a page of Braille over 14 lines, plus a smaller touch-screen below. Through the touch-screen, which has voice-navigation, users access the internet, email, documents and other content, which is then converted into Braille above. This includes pictures, graphics, maps and other images, which can all be represented on the Braille display.

The Braille is formed through a liquid-based system that creates small bubbles, which raise and fall on the page. BLITAB’s 14 lines of Braille presents an advantage over many standard Braille readers, which usually feature one single line for text.

The device was developed by BLITAB Technology, a Bulgarian start-up company now based in Austria. Kristina Tsvetanova, co-founder and CEO, had the idea for BLITAB after a blind student at a Bulgarian university (where Tsvetanova was studying industrial engineering) asked for her help to register for classes online.

“I did some research, and realised that the technology boom over the past few years had not benefited everyone,” Tsvetanova told e-Access Bulletin.

User-testing with visually impaired and blind participants helped shape BLITAB’s development, and all standard features found on other tablet computers (such as Wi-Fi, USB slots, Bluetooth and text-to-speech) are available.

As reported in e-Access Bulletin’s March edition, BLITAB has received funding from the Google Impact Challenge project. It was then demonstrated at an event in Brussels earlier this year, which showcased accessible technology that helps independent living.

BLITAB will be launched in beta (testing stage) at a mobile technology conference, Mobile World Congress Shanghai, at the beginning of July. It will be available for public purchase soon after that, said Tsvetanova, and will cost €2,500 – a price similar to or cheaper than many full-size refreshable Braille displays currently on the market.

Tsvetanova also wants BLITAB to help blind individuals in developing countries and low-income communities, with the device acting as a literacy aid, both for children in school and adults seeking employment. BLITAB can be “a tool and platform that engenders confidence and knowledge of the world, which is crucial for better quality of social life,” she said.

Find out more at the BLITAB website:
http://eab.li/1j .

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