3D Printed Books Allow Blind Children To Experience Literary Classics

The Tactile Picture Book Project creates 3D illustrations so the visually impaired can follow texts with images.

3D printing has just opened up a whole new world for visually impaired children. Researchers at the University of Colorado have found a way to adapt children’s illustrations into 3D designs so that they can follow along  with the text. The Tactile Picture Book Project is the result of a partnership with the Anchor Center, whose mission it is to ensure educational success for children with vision impairment. Thus far, the project has adapted such childhood favorites as Harold and the Purple Crayon, Goodnight Moon and Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?

According to an interview conducted for a story by Mashable, children don’t start to read braille until age 6, but this 3D approach will allow for them to access and comprehend literature at an earlier age. Although the books are now created by Algorithms and sent to the printers, researchers at Colorado University hope the option will soon be available for parents and educators to take photos of books and immediately 3D print.

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3D printing is not a stranger to children’s healthcare. Earlier this year, NPR covered a story about infant Garrett Peterson, who was born with Tracheomalacia, which left him with a defective windpipe and unable to properly breathe. Dr. Glen Green at the University of Michigan specializes in complex pediatric airway conditions like Garrett’s and developed a 3D-printed device that held the baby’s windpipe open until it could properly develop on its own. Green took a CT scan of Garrett’s windpipe to build a replica of the small structure. Then they developed a small splint that would fit to the size and shape of the windpipe. The device has not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration but nevertheless saved Garrett’s life.

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Not only is the 3D revolution allowing for advancements in children’s healthcare, but it’s opening possibility for change in the lives of everyday consumers.  PSFK has recently explored the emergence of 3D printing; the Mink 3D printer is one such newly released invention. Able to produce makeup from an image on Pinterest or a cell phone, the printer fills in color with the pigment of the user’s choosing. From advancements in vision impaired education and baby healthcare to cosmetics, 3D printing is managing to gain a holistic presence—and fast.

Tactile Picture Book Project

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