Hasegawa with Braille cell phone A new type of Braille cell phone will make it possible for those who are vision and hearing impaired to send & receive text messages via mobile phone.
Braille is much more than a series of raised dots which allow the blind to read. It can also be employed to help the deaf "hear". The key to the new cell phone jointly developed by a former teacher at a school for the blind and a university professor from the Tsukuba University of Technology is that Braille symbols can be received as a series of distinct vibrations.
This will facilitate not only conversations between one or more people who are hearing impaired, but also allow a workable form of text messaging. The phone uses two terminals that vibrate according to a predetermined sequence. For example, pressing the number 1 on the phone's keypad produces a long vibration of the left terminal, which can then be "read" as the letter "A".
Sadao Hasegawa, a 73-year-old former teacher and Nobuyuki Sasaki, a professor at Japan's Tsukuba University of Technology worked with other developers to create a working prototype of the cell phone. According to the completely blind Hasegawa, "This should be a big help for blind people who find it difficult to communicate."
Japan seems to be somewhat of a hotbed of research into ways to improve the quality of life for the disabled. I've written previously on the now-common practice of impressing Braille symbols on the tops of beer cans to help the visually impaired discern whether the can contained an alcoholic beverage. (via Mainichi Daily News).