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Our dream is to empower blind people all over the world. This is why we thought of a solution to revolutionize their education – an e-learning platform with self-describing tactile graphics, a mobile app which allows them to study tactile graphics independently and a module for teachers and parents to create personalized graphics.

Anyone can enjoy the benefits of the platform for free now but in order to achieve our dream of reaching as many blind people as possible, in order to develop and create more features, we need your help. This is why we will be switching from Free to Freemium sometime in the future. Until then, you can enjoy all the features of the platform, which are free of charge due to our sponsors: generous people, state institutions and companies.

  1. Free features

a) LIBRARY
b) READER mobile app for iOS
c) EDITOR

2. Sponsors

3. Why go Freemium?
a) READER mobile app for Android
b) Voice recording
c) Multi-language
d) Polygon

1. Free features (for now)

a) LIBRARY and mobile app

The Tactile Images LIBRARY is filled with 800 self-describing tactile graphics, which we call tactile images. They cover a large variety of subjects, from vehicles to animals and portraits. The descriptions of the drawings were written with the aid of specialists.

b) READER mobile app for iOS

Self-describing tactile graphics are different from regular tactile graphics because they can be explored independently by blind persons with the aid of any smartphone or with the mobile app we created, which for now, is available only for iOS. You can read more about the two different ways of exploring self-describing tactile graphics in this article.

The self-describing tactile graphics in the LIBRARY contain QR Codes, which enable the independent exploration, with the aid of a smartphone, thus turning the mobile phone into a virtual assistant of the blind, which plays the role of the specialist over the shoulder.

c) EDITOR

The EDITOR is the module that allows both teachers and parents of blind children to create personalized tactile graphics. It gives them the chance to either digitize the tactile graphics they already have at home or adapt the tactile graphics available in our LIBRARY to the knowledge level of their children.

If you want to join the EDITOR, please send a free request at the following link.

2. Sponsors

We have been dreaming about empowering the blind for a decade now and working hard to get there.

Creating the Tactile Images platform was possible only with the help of those who believed in our dream. On the one hand, we had state institutions who made this journey possible and walked the path to empowerment with us. We mention here: The National Cultural Heritage Administration, The Ministry of Culture, The Civic Innovation Fund, and The Historical Consulting Center in Bucharest.

On the other hand, we had The Orange Foundation on our side all this time. The list continues with companies such as OMV Petrom, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, ING Bank Romania, Electrica SA, Radcom SRL, and Microsoft Romania.

Last but not least, we want to thank all the individuals who donated different sums of money to our cause over these years and to those who volunteered to help us achieve goals faster.

3. Why go Freemium?

We aim to help as many blind people as possible to study tactile graphics independently, but we need your help to achieve that dream. We have a lot of ideas which will improve our solution, but we cannot implement them on our own.

Freemium means that access to the e-learning platform will still be free but that people will have to pay for the premium version. This will enable us to develop the existing solutions and add extra features.

a) READER mobile app for Android

The READER app is currently at the Alpha level. There are a lot of things we have to do to perfect it, and we need your help: we develop other artificial intelligence models and train machine learning.

Because iPhones are expensive, not all blind people can afford to buy them. This means that we need to come up with a solution to help as many people as possible. And that solution is adapting our mobile app to Android as well. Unfortunately, that is a costly process, and we need funding to do that.

b) Voice recording

Another dream of ours is to make work in the EDITOR easier, to give parents and teachers time to create more and more self-describing tactile graphics. For now, they have to type the text, which will be turned into audio for the blind to listen to while exploring a tactile graphic, but we want to replace that with a voice recording module.

Because it would allow teachers and parents to add audio files to their tactile graphics, this would greatly enhance the experience of blind people. While exploring an exotic bird, for example, they would be able not only to touch its shape, length, and width but also hear its chirping and the sound of the leaves blowing in in the wind. This means that we would be able to give blind people exploring a tactile graphic a complete experience.

c) Multi-language

For now, the descriptions of most of the tactile graphics in our LIBRARY are in the Romanian language and some are translated into English, as well. When you choose to explore a tactile graphic from our LIBRARY with the READER app, it will read the description in the language of your phone (if it has been translated into it).

We are now searching for volunteers to help us translate tactile graphics in our LIBRARY from Romanian to English. If you feel like you could do this, please write to us. You can find out more information on this topic in this article.

In the future, we aim to create a multilingual system, to allow people from as many countries as possible explore them in their native language.

d) Polygon

One significant step in the EDITOR is the creation of areas of interest. These areas are then connected with text and trigger once a blind person with a printed self-describing tactile graphic and the READER mobile app touches them.

Let’s go back to how theses areas of interest are created. They are squares which teachers or parents of a blind child drag around on a tactile graphic with their mouse to emphasize an important area on a drawing. Let’s take the example of the exotic bird again. Some areas of interest would be the peak, the legs, the eyes, the feathers.

We aim to enable parents and teachers to use polygon shapes as well if they want to create areas of interest – not only squares. This is because polygons allow them to create more accurate areas of interest, especially in the case of intricate drawings.

Switching to in-app purchases empowers us to develop more features and complete this educational solution for the blind. If you want to be a part of this revolution, you can support us by making a one time or recurrent donation. Find out more here.

Do you have any questions about our switching to Freemium? Write in the comment section below!

Image source: Fabian Blank | Unsplash

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