Inexpensive ‘Touchable Ink’ Could Mean Much-Less-Expensive Braille for the Visually Impaired
TechinAsia reports that J. Walter Thompson Bangkok, working with Samsung Thailand and Thailand’s Thammasat University, have created a new “touchable” ink that’s believed will make touchable Braille print and images more accessible to the visually impaired, as it can be used with everyday printers to create Braille documents that can be read by touch. In contrast, according to the American Foundation for the Blind, dedicated Braille printers typically cost between $1,800 and $80,000.
The new ink is called Touchable Ink, and it’s being said that it will “revolutionize” accessibility for the visually impaired.
According to Satit Jantawiwat, chief creative officer at J. Walter Thompson Bangkok, Touchable Ink expands in certain thermal conditions, resulting in an embossed effect on paper, so that the printed text or image can be felt: “This results in an embossed effect that makes the printed areas highly perceptible to the sense of touch. This innovative ink can therefore enable braille printing on normal paper through normal printers to substitute a dedicated braille embosser that is far more expensive. It also allows embossed printing of non-braille characters and other shapes and patterns. This will open up a new world to people with visual impairment and revolutionize their knowledge accessibility.”
This is also much cheaper than another typical method of making Braille, which involves using a special embosser, which costs about $3,000, explains Dr. Nopparat Plucktaveesak, head of the Department of Chemistry at Thammasat University’s Faculty of Science and Technology, which helped create the special ink.
The Touchable Ink was created by the university with J. Walter Thompson Bangkok, a creative agency in Thailand’s capital. The project also received equipment support and research and development from Samsung’s Thailand division.
Touchable Ink isn’t available for sale yet, but is currently being tested by the Thailand Association of the Blind.