Bucharest, Romania. November 2020. The Urban Development Association and The Orange Foundation (Romania) are launching Image Creator, the first software in the world that allows the creation of interactive tactile drawings that self-describe via audio output and can be explored independently by any person with visual impairments, with the help of a mobile app.
This innovative software completes the Tactile Images e-learning platform, the place where teachers of blind or visually impaired children have access to interactive materials for remote teaching, vital in the context of the current pandemic caused by the new coronavirus.
Image Creator allows teachers and parents to easily create drawings with personalized descriptions and provides a library of illustrations that can be added simply via drag & drop. The interactive tactile drawings create realistic representations of different concepts in the minds of visually impaired children and also offer them access to STEM subjects in the field of exact sciences. The study of the drawings can be made independently with the help of an assistant app that reads the descriptions just like a teacher, so the learning process becomes way easier.
Also, launching Image Creator marks the end of the first phase of the ”Tactile Printer One” project, an initiative with national impact, sponsored by the Orange Foundation with the amount of 466.250 RON, through ”The World through Color and Sound”, the most prominent financing fond for people with visual and hearing disabilities in Romania.
Since 2013, we’ve been dreaming of an e-learning platform where a parent can easily create images for his child, where a teacher can create materials to teach simultaneously in a special education class, and where a blind adult can learn the map of his neighborhood. The Orange Foundation is once again supporting us to launch the first free e-learning product for the visually impaired, on the global market. We are just hitting the road, but we intend to make history.
Carried out during 2020 – 2022, the Tactile Printer One project will facilitate access to independent study for visually impaired or blind children in 3 ways: software, hardware, and educational materials. In this way, apart from Images Creator, the project implicates developing a ”Do it Yourself” tactile printer. The printer will be made in collaboration with The Polytechnic University in Bucharest, Lions Club Arad, and anyone will be able to build it at home, according to a free manual, thus highly reducing the embossing cost of tactile graphics.
The first tactile printers and the creation kit will be donated through the project to 20 special education schools for the visually impaired in Romania.
The accessible educational content will be created with the support of three partners: The Tandem Association, The Sense International Romania Foundation, and The National Library of Romania. In collaboration with ADU, they will create six tactile books on various subjects, made especially to help visually impaired and blind children improve their general knowledge. All the materials produced during the project will be made available for free on the Tactile Images e-learning platform.
Through this new project, we make a significant step in developing inclusive digital education in Romania.
About the Urban Development Association (Romania)
The Urban Development Association is the initiator of the Tactile Images project. It has been developing advocacy (public space accessibility) and lobby (smartphone settlement) projects for people with visual impairments for more than 10 years. The NGO is happy to be a partner of 27 special schools in Romania, having, at the same time, partnerships with The University in Bucharest, The Polytechnic University in Bucharest, and the Babeș-Bolyai University in Cluj. The Urban Development Association was awarded 13 prizes, of which we remember The Gala of Persons with Disabilities and The Civic Society Gala. For details, visit https://www.procivic.ro/en/the-organization/.
About the Orange Foundation (Romania)
The Orange Foundation is a non-profit organization that engages in the community’s life by realizing philanthropy projects meant to bring positive changes in disadvantaged persons’ lives. During its 8 years of activity, the Orange Foundation invested over 6.5 million euros in digital education projects for people with visual or hearing disabilities, with the purpose of social integration. For details, visit https://www.fundatiaorange.ro/.