An innovative and affordable new way for blind and visually impaired people to learn and discover, Fittle models can be downloaded from the Fittle website and 3D-printed at almost zero cost, meaning that learning Braille becomes more accessible than ever. To further complete the Braille literacy puzzle, the Fittle Project is raising funds to provide 3D printers to communities in developing countries who couldn’t afford expensive learning devices in the past. There is a growing range of Fittle models including a Rocket, Mouse, Violin, Fish, Boat, Key and Crown, which will cover the entire alphabet. The puzzles have been created by experienced puzzle designers for the most engaging learning experience and are free to download: http://fittle-project.com/
Serviceplan are working with the L V Prasad Eye Institute in India, where there are 22 million visually impaired people, a significant majority of whom end up unemployed, illiterate and with low socio-economic status, due to financial constraints preventing them access to education at a young age. The existing Braille learning educational tools are either too expensive to make them accessible, or not engaging enough to encourage interaction. To address this problem, Serviceplan Health & Life partnered with Dr. Anthony Vipin Das and team at the L V Prasad Eye Institute in India (LVPEI) and Ravensburger, the world’s leading company for puzzles and educational toys, to develop Fittle, the world’s first 3D printed Braille puzzle.
The Fittle film will be shown in movie theatres in India, managed by the Prasads group, as a public service message to increase awareness of the educational aspect of the 3D Braille Puzzles, and an explanation of how to download the template for printing the puzzles.
Dr. Beula Christy, Head of the Institute for Vision Rehabilitation, L V Prasad Eye Institute commented: “Fittle opens a new avenue for children with visual impairment to explore the world around them to its closest possible reality. Besides being a motivator to learn Braille, this amusing recreational toy influences overall development through a constructive playtime.
The learning opportunities of Fittle are huge, beginning with fine motor activity to enhanced higher level cognitive functioning such as attention, focusing, problem solving, object permanence, concept learning and much more. With this collaborative initiative, L V Prasad Eye Institute and Ravensburger look forward to provide the gift of knowledge and holistic development to special needs children the world over.”
Accessible and engaging, each puzzle is divided into parts equal to the amount of letters, which when combined form the word and object. A line at the bottom of the puzzle combined with different shaped connectors, enable visually impaired children to find the right combination and understand how to spell simple words such as Fish in Braille, whilst at the same time getting a sense of the shape of the object.
The idea behind Fittle was first conceived by Tania Jain, a designer from the National Institute of Design in Gandhinagar, India (http://taniajain.com) under the mentorship of Dr. Anthony Vipin Das, Associate Director at the L V Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) during a ‘DIY workshop’ in Hyderabad, organized by LVPEI and the Camera Culture Group of Ramesh Raskar from MIT Media Lab.
Ravensburger, committed to giving children access to education since 1883 under the motto ‘learning by doing’, partnered with LVPEI, Serviceplan Health & Life and Serviceplan Innovation as part of their corporate social responsibility program to bring the concept to reality at large scale, using their expertise in puzzle design and 3D printing to develop a growing collection of 3D printed Braille puzzles covering the entire alphabet, specially designed to be 3D-printed at only $0.5 material cost per puzzle.
To bring these innovative learning tools to the hands of the visually impaired, Ravensburger together with their customer base of puzzle enthusiasts around the world, is raising funds for the 3D printers which are set up in the regional LVPEI centers to distribute Fittle puzzles for free across the LVPEI network of over 190 local eye care centers across India, reaching 2.5 million patients.
Relying on 3D printing for production has many advantages for the project: Not only is it cheaper than mass production at the current scale, it’s also much more flexible, allowing to constantly design, test and improve new models as well as instantly reproduce single parts gone missing, which is especially important when dealing with blind children. In comparison to other Braille learning tools, using Fittle LVPEI can educate multiple more people with the same budget: $10,000 can provide 4 digital Braille readers, 200 Braille books – or one 3D printer and 16,000 Fittle puzzles, with 12 puzzles covering the Alphabet.
Feedback of eye care centers where Fittle has been used for Braille education has been outstanding. The “learning through play” concept effectively boosts the child’s creativity and motivates them to want to learn more. So far, after the soft-launch of the project, enough 3D printers have been provided to the strategically most relevant locations to produce up to 50 models per day, with more donations coming in and more 3D printers being delivered as the project continues to raise awareness globally.
Christian Bulla, Head of Marketing, Ravensburger: “As an international company dedicated to the playful development of children worldwide, our support of Fittle is a natural fit. Ravensburger’s core values are joy, education and togetherness, so it’s incredible to be involved with a project that clearly embodies these values to help children around the world.”
Christoph Bohlender, Creative Director Text, Serviceplan Health & Life commented: “As an agency we are truly driven by innovation to excite our clients. Fittle combines state of the art technology with a creative product idea to make a difference in the lives of many children around the world. To be part of this project is really exciting for me.”