Fittle is one of 27 finalists in the 2014 Interaction Design Association (IxDA) Awards and one of five finalists in the category “Empowering”, described as designs “helping people to do things they otherwise couldn’t do”.
According to Fittle, there are 39 million blind people around the world but only 10 percent of them know how to read and write in Braille. This can affect outcomes in areas such as employment. The National Braille Press found in a study that those who had learned to read Braille at an early age experienced a significantly lower unemployment rate (44 percent) compared to those who did not (77 percent).
Fittle is a way to help visually challenged children learn Braille while understanding the shapes of the words that they learn. It combines puzzle blocks with Braille. To demonstrate, the word “fish” would be assembled with four puzzle blocks each with the Braille letters “F-I-S-H” on them. Once a child fits the blocks together, they can read the word “fish” and get a grasp of its form.
The playful interaction involved in putting together word blocks helps get blind kids interested in learning Braille at a young age. At the same time, feeling around the entire puzzle bock helps the kids understand the shape of the object. This empowers them to visualize what the object might look like, and hence enables them to perceive the world better.
The IxDA Awards celebrates and recognizes excellence in interaction design. It was created by IxDA, a 60,000-member international group that brings together a community of interaction designers whose focus is to create meaningful relationships between people and the products and services they use. Several entries in the Awards, therefore, have strong social applications.
Pivot reaches out to victims of human trafficking in a novel way, KonneKt is a game that was developed for children isolated for medical reasons, and Avena+ Test Bed is an agricultural printing project to promote diversity in farming.
In the same category as Fittle is Juice Box, a context independent energy storage device. It can capture electricity from multiple energy sources including the electrical grid, solar, kinetic (wind for example), and car battery, making it a global solution that can accommodate varying regional natural resources and weather patterns.
The design takes into consideration that main energy sources differ worldwide. For instance, energy may come from a river in Southeast Asia or the sun in Africa. Given its portability, Juice Box can store and transport energy to remote locations too.
Other categories of the IxDA Awards are:
The Best in Category, Best in Student, Best in Show, and IxDA Future Voice Award winners will be announced next month at the Interaction14 conference.
The public also has a chance to pick out the People’s Choice winner which will be done, for the first time, using Facebook. Any shortlisted project with the most Facebook “Likes” handed by the public will receive the People’s Choice Award. Voting closes on February 8.
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