The prototype of the first braillewriter produced entirely in Brazil was unveiled Wednesday, August 31, in São Paulo.
The machine was built by the Brazilian Association to Aid the Visually Deficient, better known as the Laramara Foundation, an institution that endeavors on behalf of the social inclusion of the blind.
According to Victor Siaulys, president of the organization, the apparatus has only six keys but is able to reproduce all the letters in the alphabet, as well as mathematical, chemical, and musical symbols, through a system of embossing dots on paper.
Visually deficient individuals read the raised-dot signs with their fingers. “The braillewriter is for blind people what the pen represents for people without visual deficiencies,” Siaulys affirms.
There are currently computer programs that convert screened or printed texts into speech and oral versions of books. The importance of the braillewriter, according to the Foundation, is that it allows blind individuals to study and make classroom notes, which is not possible with the other piece of writing or reading equipment for the blind, the reglet, which requires manual punching
Domestic production of braillewriters has the support of the National Industrial Apprenticeship Service (Senai) and the Federation of Industries of the State of São Paulo (Fiesp).
The goal is to make the country self-sufficient and to lower the price, which will drop from US$ 1048 (2500 reais) to US$ 629 (1500 reais). The intention is to make the machine available to all sightless people in Brazil.
The Laramara Foundation has already manufactured and sold approximately 2500 braillewriters, but with imported components.
According to the Foundation’s technology manager, Júlio Cézar Pires, the Senai is providing the tools to manufacture the parts that are not standardized commercial items.
“In the last two years, through a project in partnership with the Senai, we began the nationalization of this machine. The conclusion of this process of nationalization is scheduled for October.
“So, by the end of September, we will receive parts already entirely produced in Brazil, and the idea is to begin assembling this machine so that, in February, we will have a monthly output of between 40 and 50 braillewriters produced totally with domestic parts.”
The Laramara Foundation constructed its own factory and gets help from industries, which donate raw materials, finished parts, or financial resources.
Each machine requires 700 parts, 350 of which are already mass-produced. The rest will be manufactured using the new tools. Resources to cover operating expenses are sought in various manners, including donations, bidding processes, and the sale of sheets of stamps.
Based on data from other countries and the World Health Organization, the Foundation estimates that Brazil has between 135 thousand and 225 thousand people classified as blind.