3D Printed Instructional Fashions for the Visually Impaired

Our January Hacker of the Month is Neal McKenzie, an Assistive Know-how Specialist for the Visually Impaired Division on the Sonoma County Workplace of Training, which works with Blind and Low Imaginative and prescient college students Ok-12. He helps his college students use 3D printing know-how as a way to make their schooling extra accessible and extra comfy.

A short while after beginning his work with visually impaired college students, Neal started to appreciate that 3D printing could possibly be a unbelievable device to drastically improve the educational expertise for his college students:

“About 5-6 years in the past me and the Braillist I labored with had been beginning to learn completely different articles and posts about 3D prints getting used for various blind and visually impaired individuals everywhere in the world. We began actually speaking in regards to the potential to create and print real-world, 3D tactile fashions in home and the way that might profit the precise inhabitants we’re capable of work with. The chances had been thrilling!”

Neal working with students using a BrailleThing 2.0

Neal working with college students utilizing a BrailleThing 2.0

After performing some severe analysis and arising with a proposal to combine 3D printing into their curriculum, Neal was capable of buy a LulzBot TAZ 5 to start out his 3D printing journey.

Beginning with TinkerCAD, and with primary PLA filament and ABS filament, Neal started to design practical, helpful instruments to assist his visually impaired college students:

“In a short-term, extra on a regular basis scale, my prints assist the scholars I work with to be extra unbiased and entry a particular idea or project like a tactile math graphing system or Braille studying tactile recreation. This protects me, the lecturers, and our superior Braillist a whole lot of time producing these items time and again and provides our youngsters much less dependence on us. Long run, designing these prints offers me the expertise to take a look at an issue of entry and be capable of have 3D printing as a chance in a bag of so many alternative instruments. Additionally long run, making a 3D print that bridges that hole to entry lets you have the print able to go or not less than have a strong idea to construct on and/or personalize.”

Specialized cane cart holders Neal designed

Specialised cane cart holders Neal designed

In 3D designing and dealing with college students and different educators within the Visually Impaired teams in and round California, Neal has seen some optimistic modifications within the instructing course of and the scholars themselves:

“I might like to assume my 3D prints have helped stage the taking part in subject to entry. I walked right into a classroom to work with a blind scholar who was ending up a math lesson that was being directed by the classroom instructor. He was maintaining with the lesson utilizing a 3D printed math manipulative I had designed for him. I used to be additionally simply observing a youthful scholar who has a visible impairment together with Cerebral Palsy writing his title utilizing a 3D printed information I had designed for him which helped him attain his Individualized Training Program objective and gave him an enormous confidence increase. My favourite prints are these which are utilized in a extra inclusive method. For instance, I work with an 8th grade blind scholar who was handed a problem-solving project that used trains, vehicles a tunnel and a barn. The project was a phrase downside with a number of photographs on a sheet of paper. I 3D printed all of the items and put them on a tactile monitor, which included directions in Braille and print. The scholar cherished being to work by means of this downside in a hands-on and tactile means that he and his sighted friends might each use facet by facet which made this project completely inclusive. I’m able to have a whole lot of these experiences on a weekly foundation, which is basically fulfilling and motivating for me.”

Neal's 3D designs available on TinkerCAD for download

Neal’s 3D designs out there on TinkerCAD for obtain

Whereas Neal is extraordinarily enthusiastic about what 3D printing is bringing to his lecture rooms now, he does see room for extra progress in strategies and processes for visually impaired college students:

“I actually hope to see using 3D printing in my subject proceed to develop and be considered as a respectable device for many who work with the blind and visually impaired. It makes a lot sense to me that the power to provide these limitless tactile fashions and dealing with college students with visible impairments goes hand in hand. Additionally to see extra collaboration with the maker motion as a complete and accessibility.”

“I might like to see extra 3D printers with easy audio output that will make them accessible for these with visible impairments, and 3D modeling software program that was utterly constructed with accessibility in thoughts. There are some that work pleased with display screen readers proper now, however none I do know of constructed particularly for accessibility and are straightforward to leap proper into.”

For extra data on Neal and his packages, take a look at among the hyperlinks under:

Video tutorials on among the 3D educational instruments Neal makes use of:


Nice video by Autodesk Training highlighting Neal and the work he does in Sonoma County:


A fantastic article about how Neal ready for the ‘Huge Ask’ to get approval for 3D printers in his classroom is right here (credit score to Jessica McDowell of the Perkins College for the Blind):


Wish to be our subsequent Hacker of the Month? E-mail chris.morgan@matterhackers.com, and inform us about your 3D printed creation – you can be featured in our subsequent publication. Hacker of the Month wins 3 free spools of PRO Sequence PLA or ABS filament to additional their pursuit of 3D printing greatness.

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