Introduction: 3D Braille Communicator

About: I'm an aspiring entrepreneur, currently working on renewable and environmentally friendly building materials project. A designer at heart, just unleashing my creativity on Instructables for the time being.

The braille communicator is a design created to allow students affected by speach, hearing, or visual disabilites such as Apraxia, Aphasia, Dysarthria, Dystonia, Blindness, or Deffness which makes it difficult to communicate with persons who haven't learned alternate forms of communication such as sign language.

Braille Communicator combines customizable and replaceable commonly used phrases, important statements, questions, and answers from braille to English, allowing them to comunicate with persons around them more easily. Helping children with visual impairment who may have learnt or are currently learning braille to communicate with family members or friends who may or may not yet have learned braille or sign language. Persons with speech or hearing disabilities are able to communicate more easily to someone who has not learned sign language simply by selecting what they want to say.

Persons who have suffered from a stroke, brain injury, or progressive desease which affects there ability to speak and communicate efficently are able to communicate there most common phrases, questions and requests, to persons who may mave trouble understanding them.

I will explain the use of this 3D printable device, its customizable features, how it was designed, and provide the files in this instructable.


Autodesk/TinkerCad Account

Step 1: Outline and Frame

Creating the frame consist of making a rectangular shape using the square feature then cutting out small squares within in to fit our tiles later on. This model consists of 18 slots to fit 18 tiles however, it can be scaled up or down depending on how many tiles are needed or how large/small you need the device to be.

Step 2: Creating Tile Slider

This portion will house the communication tiles and allow the user to easily tell if the tile was selected. A square is created, small enough to fit within the spaces in the frame. Half circle/oval nubs are placed on the outer sides, 2 on each side. This allows a slight play to be in the tiles when not selected which will give audible and tactile feedback to the user.

Step 3: Creating Frame Notches for Sliding

We now need to create notches in the frame to allow the tiles to slide back and forth, this allows the user to identify which tile was selected. Using the dimensions of the semicircle nubs on the tile slider as a reference, a small square is created just half a millimeter wider to allow the slider to move when not in the selected position.

Once the square is duplicated 4 times to cover all 4 semicircle nubs on the tile slider, the parts are aligned in place within the housing. The tile slider is disabled from the work plane leaving only the small squares which will be used to cut the notches into the frame allowing the tiles to slide. The squares are then duplicated and aligned within each of the spaces within the frame. once duplicated and aligned, the solid frame is grouped with the individual small squares to create the next stage of the housing with spaces to accommodate the sliders.

Step 4: Placing Slide Stops in Frame

Now with the slider spaces created within the frame, we need to be able to lock each tile in place on either side. Using the semicircle shape, once resized and rotated to the correct orientation, it is placed in the middle of the spaces cut into the frame in the previous step.

With the Slider stop in place, it is then duplicated in all 4 spaces then duplicated again to fit within all the square spaces within the frame. Once the slide stops have all been aligned, the parts are grouped to create the next stage of the frame.

Step 5: Resizing Tile Slider

With the tile slider in place, another square is created, smaller than the dimensions of the tile slider. It is then fitted and aligned within the tile slider part. Once aligned, the parts are grouped and this cuts the center from the tile slider. This is done to reduce weight and the amount of materials used to create the parts as this part is designed to be replaceable if there is a need for a more important communication tile.

Step 6: Duplicating Tile Sliders

With the tile slider in its final shape, it is duplicated within all the spaces within the frame. A new frame can always be created if there is a need for more tiles and this feature allows the tiles to be changed out if needed.

Step 7: Assembling Frame

With the tile sliders aligned within the first half of the frame, the frame is then duplicated. With the second half of the frame created, it is rotated 180 degrees and place on top of the first half of the frame. This sandwiches the tile sliders within the frame, securing them in place, allowing them to move slightly when not selected but once pushed inward or outward secures them in that position by way of the nubs created in the housing.

Step 8: Securing Frame

The thread shape is used to create threaded screw holes at the 4 corners of the frame. The threads are resized to fit a 5mmx5mm screw. Once placed in the top corner, it is then duplicated around all 4 corners of the device.

Step 9: Creating Tiles

To create the braille side of the tile, a square is created and aligned on top of the tile slider. It is made a bit smaller and higher for the end of the tile to be easily identified by touch. With the tile created, the semicircle shape is used to create small semicircle balls. They are 1/2mm wide and 1/2mm high. they are then aligned in a 2x3 configuration which is the basis of each letter in braille.

Once the stock braille letter templated is created, it is duplicated enough times to fill the tile and spaced accordingly for a user to denote the difference between each letter.

Step 10: Creating Communication Tiles

With the stock time created, each letter will need to be formed. Using a braille alphabet diagram and a braille translator, the desired letters are created from the blanks by individually removing the dots that do not represent the letter that is needed.

A copy of the template is made and the dots removed to create each letter. once the message has been created the braille, the base tile is duplicated and the text feature applied atop it to create the corresponding message in English.

Step 11:

Step 10 is repeated to create all the communication tiles in braille and English until all 18 tiles have been created. With the spelling being checked using the braille alphabet. The text will be cut from the tiles allowing it to be easily read, reduce material and weight.

Step 12: Placing Tiles

Once all the tiles have been created, they are placed within the frame on top of the tile sliders. The braille and lettered tiles are grouped individually to secure the placement of the dots and letters once the placement and spelling has been checked.

The tiles are aligned within on the tile slider one tile at a time.

Step 13: Placing Braille Tiles

Once one side of the tiles has been placed, the entire assembly is rotated 180 degrees and the corresponding tiles are placed on the opposite side in the respective slot.

Step 14: Creating a Handle

To allow the device to be easily carried, a handle is placed in both halves of the frame. Creating a square with the general height and width of the handle, another square is created to cut the space for the fingers. The tom corner of the handle is cut at an angle to reduce the size of the handle. Once the handle is the shape heeded, it is resized to the hight of each half of the frame and joined to the frame using the group feature.

Step 15: Completed Braille Communicator

With all the parts created and crouped, they can be printed and assembled. Comprised of the frame, tile sliders, and the various tiles which can be printed with the tile sliders or separately and glued together afterward. This device was designed to help disabled students and patients of the Hope Institute and the Sir. Jhon Golding rehab center better communicate their frequent concerns, questions, and request to persons who may not be able to understand them either due to an alternate language communication barrier or disabilities leading to impaired or loss of speech, sight or hearing.

I have provided the file links in hopes that if this device could be useful to improve the life of a loved one or someone you know, feel free to recreate or modify it to your liking.

3D Printed Contest

Participated in the
3D Printed Contest