Matuto, Magbasa, Maglaro: Learning to Read Braille Through Play

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Lopez, Rhianne
Assistive Device , Braille , Co-Design , End-Users , Philippines
In 2016, Digital Learning for Development and All Children Reading released a “Grand Challenge for Development” urging researchers to explore the barriers that children with sensory disabilities in the Philippines face regarding learning how to read. Close to half a million people are blind and many more have low vision in the Philippines. The primary goal of this study was to engage in the co-design process to create a device to help children in the Philippines and Canada with visual impairments learn braille. Questionnaires that aimed to identify the barriers of using existing devices for reading were released to participants in the Philippines and Canada. Results showed that problems with existing devices were associated with device accessibility, portability, durability, usability and function. Participant feedback was further analyzed and incorporated in the brainstorming of a device that could help teach braille to children with visual impairments in the Philippines and Canada. Using results from a weighted evaluation matrix analysis and feedback from partners in the Philippines and Canada who taught reading to persons with visual impairments, a design was selected to prototype. Two prototypes were created. The most current prototype was an interactive pegboard that mimicked four braille cells. The device asked the user to form a letter or spell a four-letter word in braille using pegs, then either congratulated or corrected the user depending on the user’s performance. Usability testing showed that participants liked the device and found it easy to use and interactive. Suggestions for improvement included adding various modes for users of varying reading levels, reducing the size, weight and cost of the device and adding a headphone port. Results from this study highlight advantages of engaging in the co-design process and provide important data for other researchers developing devices for persons with visual impairments.
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