BALTIMORE, July 25 (UPI) -- A group of U.S. undergraduate students has created a lightweight, portable Braille writing tool for the blind that requires no electronic components.
The invention was born in a Johns Hopkins University class called the Engineering Design Project. Four mechanical engineering undergraduates were asked to produce an instrument that would cost less than $50 a copy.
At the end of a two-semester research, design and testing process, the student inventors came in well below the target price. They estimated their Braille writer, if mass-produced, would cost about $10 each.
The team members -- Emily Kumpel of Wakefield, Mass.; Peter Lillehoj of West Friendship, Md.; Mark MacLeod of Ipswich, Mass.; and Penny Robinson of Baltimore -- recently presented their prototype to the project's sponsor, the Baltimore-based National Federation of the Blind.
"We were looking for a portable writing device that's low-tech and does not use a computer," said Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind. "We want to give credit to these students. They did an outstanding job"
Federation officials say the prototype can serve as a key starting point in a plan to develop and distribute a low-cost, low-tech Braille writer.