It is a Braille learning toy for both blind and visually impaired children to have an interesting exposure to Braille literacy and functional skill learning. The innovation of double-sided sensory play provides a friendly and welcome platform to bridge the cultural gap between visually impaired children and sighted children. Front side: provides toddlers pre-braille learning, learning mobility symbols and identifying tactile patterns. Back side: provides preschoolers Braille learning, motor development, direction and space training. Through collaborating with Vision Australia, direct feedback was received on the development of the design. In order to let all blind children in developing countries to share the right of learning, Reach & Match was hence developed into second version with easy accessible resources and local skills. Two full-scale functional prototypes were successfully made and tested with different visually impaired children.
Braille is not only a tool to help blind people function, itself is an art that composed of beautiful, orderly lines of words that can convey a different idea that can stimulate the reader. Reading Braille is able to give a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction for visually impaired people. The global decline of Braille literacy throughout recent years leaves blind children illiterate and which is a sign of regression but not progression. When I look into the learning of Braille and lots of stories behind, I am afraid this valuable writing system will be faded out. Therefore, I designed Reach & Match that helps the young blind children to have a positive and enjoyable exposure to Braille. Besides, blindness is always links with multi-disabilities, like mental retardation, autism and hearing impairment, there is very little opportunity for visually impaired children to interact with others, hence the design acts as platform to bridge the gap between them.
This project has involved looking at the literacy of Braille and its global change throughout recent years, the research on early childhood education for visually impaired children and observation from children with multi-disabilities. The design objectives were driven by: the problem understanding in the society through extensive literature review, the opportunity observed from the marketing research and also observational research in Vision Australia. The design development was conducted through several methods- various design task clarifications, interviews, discussion and consultation with professional, parents and supervisors. Finally, functional prototypes were made for testing with visually impaired children.