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Portable Braille printer makes labeling a snap

Engineering students have developed a Braille printing device allowing visually impaired people to easily label and identify objects that are similar to the touch.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

A group of engineering students has developed a portable, low-cost Braille printer that lets the blind and visually impaired easily label objects that feel similar to the touch, like DVDs.

The 6dot Braille Labelmaker is cheaper and easier to use than other label makers, according to the students from MIT, the University of Toronto, and Stanford University. Still in development, it might cost as little as $200 when released, less than half the cost of some other Braille label makers.

Users push six keys on the ergonomic device--one for each of the dots that make up a Braille character--to emboss any character, including contractions, on a roll of adhesive tape. An internal microprocessor can store up to 16 characters.

The input method is similar to standard Braille typewriters, but since the 6dot runs on two AA batteries, the print quality is high, the team says.

Visually impaired people often print Braille labels to identify objects like cans, medicine bottles, and AC adapters. The developers say 6dot will meet a need for labeling things on the go, and can also be used to help blind children learn Braille.