Development and Design of BrailleBunny: a Device for Braille Literacy Education
Braille is crucial for social and economic opportunity and has been linked to higher rates of employment, education, financial self-sufficiency, and self-esteem. Braille literacy is decreasing, and the National Federation of the Blind has declared a braille literacy crisis. One area of the world particularly impacted by braille illiteracy is the Philippines. In 2016, Digital Learning for Development and All Children Reading released a “Grand Challenge for Development” that challenged researchers to address the need for assistive technologies to help children with sensory disabilities learn to read in the Philippines. The work of this thesis aimed to address the need for a device that helps children in the Philippines learn to read braille. A comprehensive set of ideal design criteria for a device for braille literacy education in the Philippines was developed. A parallel, iterative, and co-design process was undertaken to develop a prototypical device, BrailleBunny. The extent to which the device fulfilled the design criteria developed, and directions for future development were determined through a series of case studies with end-users. The results of this thesis highlight that a device for braille literacy education in the Philippines should promote transferable braille literacy skills including writing with a slate and stylus, provide real time auditory and tactile feedback, be accessible, durable and reliable, safe, easily and independently operable, and enable co-play and cooperative learning. To entice students to use the device, it should be engaging, motivational, and portable. The device achieved all criteria with the exception of being accessible, durable and reliable, and enabling co- play or cooperative learning. Directions for future development to further meet all criteria are presented. The design criteria developed, and suggestions for improvement provide important insight for designers developing devices for braille literacy education.