ELIA Life Technology, Inc (ELT) aims to develop a low-cost tactile printer, the TouchPrinter, which can produce raised text, graphics, and labels. The TouchPrinter serves members of the community of people who are blind/ or have a visual impairment (B/VI);including caretakers, educators, and users who are B/VI as the output can be read both by touch and sight. The Phase II efforts will build on the successful Phase I research, where electronic components were integrated to produce tactile text that meet current government standards set by the U.S. Library of Congress for braille. ELT will collaborate with the usability team (experts in B/VI rehabilitation) to optimize the design and performance of the new TouchPrinter. The engineering team will leverage ink-jet printing, with complementary technologies to achieve the aims. Proprietary methods of engineering controls will allow the subsystem components to work together for the specific application of tactile printing. The subjects in the usability study will be engaged on a regular basis to iterate the design to meet user needs. As a fully developed product, the TouchPrinter will be capable of consistently printing raised output for tactile text production of braille, the ELIA Alphabet and other tactile fonts. The final product is expected to be robust, reliable, offer excellent print resolution, and provide a consistent, pleasant user experience. The successful development of the TouchPrinter will begin to bridge the gap of inequality of information access for people who are B/VI. It will allow for increased literacy, which is "the key to social and economic opportunity," according to a 2006 report by the National Center of Low-Incidence Disabilities. ELT anticipates that the TouchPrinter will be utilized in the home, office, schools, and other public institutions s it can produce both visually and tactilely accessible text and graphics. The benefits to public health offered by the TouchPrinter are directly relevant to the mission of multiple NIH institutions, including the NEI, the NIA, and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver NICHHD. Activities of daily living (ADLs) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) performed by the elderly who are blind or visually impaired and their caregivers, such as administering medicine, preparing meals, etc., can be performed more easily with the TouchPrinter. Additionally, children who are B/VI will enhance their educational experience as they will be able to interact with information previously inaccessible, such as scientific drawings, and mathematic charts and graphs. The technological advances in the TouchPrinter will bring accessible graphics to a wider audience than can currently be reached.
The TouchPrinter, a printer and label maker capable of producing tactile print and graphics, will improve the quality of life for people who are blind and visually impaired. It will provide access to information that will increase opportunity for literac, education, and independence. The intent of the product is to improve public health for the blind, those who have a visual impairment, and assist caretakers and vision rehabilitation professionals.