Revolutionising learning for the visually impaired

Team Visionaries comprising (from left) Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering (Hons) student Ng Yong Pong, Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery students Alantino Raven Daniel and Shannen Kay Chan, and Bachelor of Business (Hons) student Tan Zi Qing with their innovative invention, the BraillePad.

A DYNAMIC group of students from Taylor’s University’s engineering, medical and business schools – called Team Visionaries – has come together to bring about education equality for the visually impaired through their innovative invention, the BraillePad.

Their hard work paid off as the team was recently announced as the national runner-up for Malaysia at the James Dyson Award 2023, for their 3D printed tablet-like Braille book device.

The students got the idea for the BraillePad after spending some time at the Malaysia Association for the Blind (MAB) during an ophthalmology posting.

From then on, Team Visionaries, comprising Ng Yong Pong, Alantino Raven Daniel, Shannen Kay Chan and Tan Zi Qing, worked closely with Braille readers from MAB to better understand their reading needs.

For the visually impaired, challenges in life begin at an early age, with tasks such as reading and writing being hampered.

Common Braille books used to attain basic knowledge are not only cost-consuming for manufacturing and sales, but also pose challenges in terms of weight and the time taken to read the entire book.

Braille books are usually priced between RM900 to RM3,000 depending on the thickness and content of the book. As such, the quantity of textbooks is usually limited for visually impaired students, impeding them from having personal copies for learning progression or revision.

“Seeing the disparity in access to learning resources and the delayed acquisition of new knowledge, which limits the visually impaired community’s academic and career potential, we decided to come up with an innovation that is both affordable and accessible, ensuring that they have equal access to educational materials,” says Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery student Shannen Kay Chan.

The 3D Printed BraillePad designed by Team Visionaries.The 3D Printed BraillePad designed by Team Visionaries.

Team Visionaries also actively participated in competitions to improvise and upgrade their innovation, in terms of material efficiency and production time, while they worked towards their participation in the James Dyson Award.

Chan shares that the James Dyson Award challenges youths to “design something that solves a real-world problem”, which truly tested the team’s creativity and practicality skills in terms of design methodology.

“From thoughts to workable solutions, we were able to showcase new features such as a hinged door design, page indicator and orientation indicators to better suit the needs of the visually impaired,” says Chan.

The device addresses the limitations of conventional Braille books, enabling visually impaired readers to engage in independent learning without relying on a teacher.The device addresses the limitations of conventional Braille books, enabling visually impaired readers to engage in independent learning without relying on a teacher.

Team Visionaries hopes that BraillePad will have a significant impact on every visually impaired child equipped with the device, as the BraillePad’s lightweight and compact design makes it highly portable – empowering its users to study, read and access learning materials at their convenience.

Additionally, BraillePad users can also reduce waste by recycling and reusing the device for different books, which contributes to an eco-friendly approach to Braille reading.

The innovative device is created as part of Taylor’s University’s pioneering efforts to offer multidisciplinary learning experiences across all of its bachelor’s degrees and its Taylor’sphere ecosystem.

“Interdisciplinary projects and industry experiences are paramount for us students, and I am grateful that Taylor’s University motivates us to go beyond conventional notions with the right environment, network and resources to be resilient problem-solvers in an ever-changing world, increasing our adaptability to the market for employment.

“While the team’s next steps include forging strategic partnerships, we are currently involved in the institution’s Camp of Leaders mentorship programme.

Asia Mobiliti co-founder and chief executive officer Ramachandran Muniandy with Team Visionaries student mentees during the Camp of Leaders 2023 Meet & Pitch session.Asia Mobiliti co-founder and chief executive officer Ramachandran Muniandy with Team Visionaries student mentees during the Camp of Leaders 2023 Meet & Pitch session.

“This programme pairs industry mentors and mentees to empower youths of today to make positive contributions to their community and enhance the quality of life, allowing us to gather insights and guidance on how to enhance the marketability and feasibility of our innovation,” says Chan.

Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering (Hons) student Ng Yong Pong adds that receiving recognition at the James Dyson Award ceremony was also a major milestone for Team Visionaries.

“The James Dyson Award is one of the biggest competitions for the engineering field. Knowing that BraillePad involves the usage of 3D printing, which revolves around engineering technology, we decided to participate in the competition, which saw nearly 2,000 entries across 30 countries,” shares Ng.

“It was truly a dream come true to be recognised in this world-renowned competition as a team.”

To date, the team has won several national and international awards, including first runner-up at the National University of Singapore Medical Grand Challenge, double awards for the Youth Innovation Challenge at the Malaysia Technology Expo 2023, and being crowned champions for “Best Use of 3D Printing (Over 18)” at the PrintLab & Autodesk Make:able 3D Printing Challenge 2023.

Now in its third year, Taylor’sphere is Taylor’s University’s comprehensive and holistic ecosystem that seamlessly integrates pedagogical methodologies with hands-on experiences to foster a holistic educational journey, ultimately empowering students to graduate with a clear sense of purpose.

For more information on the Taylor’sphere ecosystem, click here.

Follow us on our official WhatsApp channel for breaking news alerts and key updates!

Next In Starpicks

Discover a stylish and powerful smartphone experience with the vivo Y100 5G for under RM1,200
Capital A ESG ratings reach soaring heights
Empowering non-fiction writers
Nourishing the future
Malaysia now ranks number one globally for 5G consistency score - Fahmi
Get a UK degree at University of Reading Malaysia

Others Also Read