2014

National Braille Press Announces $20K Touch of Genius Prize for Innovation Competition encourages innovation in braille and tactile literacy for the blind

BOSTON, Oct. 5, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- National Braille Press (NBP) announced that it is accepting applications for its 2012 Touch of Genius Prize for Innovation that will reward the recipient with up to $20,000. In keeping with NBP's mission, the competition was developed in order to inspire innovators to promote tactile literacy for blind and deafblind individuals across the globe. Applications must be submitted by November 2, 2012.

Provided through support from The Gibney Family Foundation, $20,000 will be awarded to a group or individual for the development of a new tactile literacy product, software application, educational method, or other technological advance in regards to tactile literacy. Applicants may enter completed projects or viable concepts, both of which must seek to improve opportunities for blind people.

"The Touch of Genius Prize is one way that National Braille Press can spotlight the innovative projects being undertaken to help blind and visually impaired individuals," said Brian MacDonald, president of National Braille Press.   "200 years ago Louis Braille was an innovator when he developed the braille code, the only way for blind people to be truly literate.  NBP wants to inspire future acts of innovation so that braille and tactile literacy will stay relevant in the digital age.  We are on the cusp of launching a groundbreaking product – the B2G (Braille to Go) a braille tablet for the blind– that may benefit from the ideas inspired among the Touch of Genius applicants."

Over the past several years, National Braille Press and its global partners have been exploring the challenges that the blind community faces when it comes to innovative braille technology and found that affordability and modernization are two primary obstacles that this community encounters. Existing braille displays are expensive – the average price is $6,000—therefore the B2G is designed to bring both innovation and affordability to braille readers by cutting the cost so that the B2G is about 1/3 of the current price.

"What we found through our research is that because blindness is a low incidence disability in the U.S., the size of this market does not encourage the same innovation as found in mainstream technology," said Brian MacDonald. "What we hope to accomplish through the Touch of Genius Prize is to encourage innovative thinking to remedy this issue."

Last year's contest featured  projects such as Ashok Sapre's Tactile Accu-draw Graphics Set, which is a low-cost, multipurpose device for creating rich graphics and embossing braille notes; and Christine Short's Feel the Beat: Braille Music Curriculum which uses the soprano recorder to teach the braille music code to blind students.  

Submissions, including an application form, an essay on project innovation, two letters of recommendation, and other supporting materials must be received by NBP by November 2, 2012. For more information, and to download the application form, visit www.touchofgeniusprize.org.

ABOUT NATIONAL BRAILLE PRESS

A non-profit braille publisher, National Braille Press promotes literacy for blind children through outreach programs and provides access to information by producing information in braille for blind children and adults. National Braille Press is the premier braille publisher in the US that specializes in producing original braille works written by blind authors expressly for blind people. www.nbp.org

SOURCE National Braille Press



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