Meet 12-year-old Millie, a former student of mine. She grew up in Washington Heights and has been blind since birth. Millie is a talented singer with a personality that lights up any room.
With a specialized school nearby, Millie received instruction in braille, orientation and mobility, core subjects, and even the arts – but this is not the case for many.
I am Daniel Lubiner. For more than 25 years, I have been a special education teacher, and for the last five years of my teaching, I taught art to students on the blindness spectrum in the Bronx. When the pandemic hit, I was devastated about how poor the education for my students had become. Then I was shocked to learn that only 10% of these children were learning braille well before the pandemic.
That’s when I conceived of the BrailleDoodle, an inexpensive “B-SMArt” device for braille and tactile learning – in science, math and art – with a surface that refreshes repeatedly. It allows students to write and create and feel as they go.
The BrailleDoodle will enhance education and make learning fun at home or school. It has arrays of hundreds of holes, and each hole contains a smooth metal ball that can be pulled to the surface by a magnetic stylus. A tiny spring under each ball holds it up with just the proper force – a user simply pushes the balls back down to erase.
On the “doodle” side, there is plenty of room to enjoy what some call “the Etch-a-Sketch for the blind.” It’s also a place where, unlike any other product, graphs can be made and manipulated.
The braille side has examples of letters, numbers, and words and plenty of space to practice.
Creating access to tactile art and making learning fun puts children on the path to a successful education and, therefore, a better future.
About the BrailleDoodle
The TouchPad Pro Foundation, a 501(c)(3), was founded in 2021 to distribute the BrailleDoodle to children who are blind, low-vision, or deafblind worldwide, even to those who cannot afford it.
After years in development, the Foundation has launched the BrailleDoodle pre-sale on Kickstarter. Anyone can preorder one or more for themselves, for their organization or to donate.
The TouchPad Pro Foundation is a registered non-profit, and all donations are tax-deductible, even on Kickstarter. For more information, visit TouchPadProFoundation.org, or follow on Facebook and Instagram.
About the author
Daniel was a teacher most of his life, but always into the arts: making art, drama, or music and teaching it were always his thing. He’s currently an entrepreneur, inventor, and eccentric middle-aged man. He’s taught children with autism, down syndrome, severe learning disabilities, and many others, and his students taught him many things about life. The BrailleDoodle is a creation of his “co-creators.” Daniel is the father of two wonderful grown sons and one wonderful grown stepdaughter. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.