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A Braille Writing Tutor to Combat Illiteracy in Developing Communities

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journal contribution
posted on 01.01.2007 by Nidhi Kalra, Tom Lauwers, M. Bernardine Dias
Less than 3% of the 145 million blind people living in developing countries are literate. This low literacy rate is in part due to the lack of trained teachers and the challenges associated with learning to write Braille on a traditional slate and stylus. These challenges include writing from right to left, writing mirrored images of letters, and receiving significantly delayed feedback. Extensive conversations with the Mathru School for the Blind in Bangalore, India, revealed the need for a robust, low-power, low-cost Braille writing tutor. In this paper, we present the design and deployment of our writing tutor system that uses a novel input device to capture students activity on a slate and stylus and uses a range of scaffolding techniques and Artificial Intelligence to teach writing skills to both beginner and the advanced students. The paper also reports lessons learned in the implementation of this project and from a six-week pilot study at the Mathru school and outlines future directions for improvement.