By Pongpen Sutharoj, The Nation, Bangkok, Thailand
The National Electronics and Computer Technology Centre (Nectec), with the aid of a research team at Prince of Songkla University of Thailand has developed a Braille notebook, which could make life much easier for visually impaired people in Thailand. The notebook consists of a portable computer on which visually impaired users can key in information in Braille. The information can then be printed either in Braille or in text format.
Unlike the conventional notebook computer which is equipped with dozens of buttons, the Braille notebook will have only seven buttons, called Braille cells, to facilitate easy typing for blind people. Its size therefore is only one-third that of the regular computer notebook. The notebook’s keyboard will work like shorthand that makes it possible to write messages using a combination of these seven keys.
The device is currently priced at Baht 280,000 (Rupees 3,16,400 approximately), but the assistive technology centre at Nectec has decided to work on it further to bring down the cost. It is expected that a Thai Braille notebook prototype will be available by next year. Nectec plans to work with the private sector for mass production. It is expected that the device will then cost only Baht 80,000 (Rupees 90,400 approximately).