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Mass Portal Designs 3D Printed Tactile Books for the Blind

Published on 2016-04-05. Author : SpecialChem

There are almost 300 million people in the world with visual impairments. 40 million of them are completely blind. Only a touch represents their perception about the world. Their hands are their eyes and it is the only way to see things, understand its nature and feel safe in this world. It’s difficult to create notion about never seen things and opportunities for these people are limited.

Mass Portal Deigns 3D Printed Tactile Books for the Blind
Fig. 1: Mass Portal Deigns 3D Printed Tactile Books for the Blind

Anyone can learn Braille and read books, but blind people don't understand the concept and information description of these books. A person can touch and recognize simple and available everyday things, such as books, pencils, a chair or a dog, but cannot touch the elephant, the tower, paintings content, as well as extensive and inconceivable things like pyramids, skyscrapers or mountains.

Tactile books in 3D print


"Global Startup Battle" 2015 winners "Tactile Eyesight" successfully continues its cooperation with SIA Mass Portal of making tactile books. On one side of the tactile book page is text in Braille and on the other side is relief of drawing. It allows blind people raise awareness and get to know the things described in book. Process of making these books is complicated and time-consuming, which usually is performed by hands. 3D printing capabilities of this process is much easier and it’s scheduled to prepare digital mock-ups to tactile books for the blind children education, so they could not only learn new concepts of things, but also understand them. Braille typeface with full support of Latvian language has already been made within this project. Author Aigars Vilcāns has made it open access for everyone.

"You can count all Latvian tactile books on your fingers."


First chosen book to prototype is from awarded Luīzes Pastores Art detective book series "Missing Monkey". For three weeks Mass Portal hosted three students from Lithuania within Erasmus+ project. Co-founder of "Tactile Eyesight" Mareks Matisons organized a meeting at Latvian Society of the Blind, where they introduced students about history of tactile books and Braille, informed them about project process and gave Elīnas Brasliņas illustration sketches which will be used for further work. Main task for students were to build illustration 3D terrain models on 3D building software SketchUp and print the prototypes – from primitive contours to finely detailed 3D images, so a person who is reading tactile book is able to imagine and create self-understanding about specific things in different angles. It was the first time they worked with SketchUp and 3D printers, but they did a good work and are very proud and pleased about this opportunity. All generated drawings will be used for further exploration at Strazdumuiža Residental Secondary School and Training center for the blind and visually impaired, where children and young people will examine them.

''Books are alive. It is a matter, a symbol of human development and cultural grandeur. Book illustrations are very important for young children. Looking at the pictures child learns new words and concepts. They are aware of the world around them. Same experience for children with visual impairments provides tangible three dimensional images. It’s a real pleasure to be part of this process for every one of us, enabling children and young people to integrate into society by showing them yet unseen and unfamiliar world wonders that we seem to self-evident. Engaging in this project implementation we each took home a small piece of blind peoples world'', commented Mass Portal marketing manager Inga Žilinska.

Although the process is slower than it was originally planned, but with a different scope of expert assistance and Mass Portal support "Tactile Eyesight" team has made great step to success in tactile book making.

About Mass Portal


Mass Portal SIA is a privately held company that designs, manufactures and sells high definition, "open materials" desktop 3D printers. Founded April 2012, Mass Portal® is based in Riga, Latvia.

Source: Mass Portal

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