We create multi-sensory, tech-enabled learning experiences for children, designed to include children with disabilities with equal opportunity.
We are designers, dreamers, makers, doers.
When Braille is not enough.
How do blind children learn about science and math, if they only have access to braille (text) and audio? Even simple concepts like the water cycle or complex diagrams like the combustion engine require a minimum amount of visual imagery, which blind people have minimal access to, making their education severely stunted. This lack of access, compounded across years of education, effectively excludes blind people from several fields of employment and livelihood.
Learning With Other Senses
We are addressing this problem by creating tactile graphics — images that are embossed and textured, so they can be read by the fingertips. We also have an interactive audio companion through a smartphone app, that makes it possible for blind children to learn independently.
After several months of conversations with stakeholders including blind children, blind adults, parents, teachers, special educators, and education policy makers, we understand that these factors are important for blind education:
- access to same information as sighted peers, including visual content.
- raised expectations and learning goals, recognising higher potential.
- formalising higher quality testing methods for tactile/visual content.
- ability to learn without assistance, independently
We continue to create resources based on concepts that teachers think are most important, and cannot be taught without the help of tactile imagery. Frequent testing with blind children is part of our design process.
Why early intervention?
Our work is constantly informed by the needs of special educators, parents, and of course the interests and needs of blind children themselves. In all our testing interactions with blind individuals — adults as well as children, we repeatedly see that tactile perception skills need to be introduced early in the learning process. Another strong reason is that the gap in access to learning has to be bridged as early as possible so that it doesn’t become a difficult task for a child to catch up later.
Having said that, we’ve also found that some of the early learning material we’ve created are equally interesting to blind adults, as they’ve not had access to tactile material growing up.
Our plan is to create content starting with early learning needs and scale rapidly to address primary school level learning needs as well.
Funded & Supported by
When you think of educational resources for children, there is a flood of choice in the form of illustrated books, activity books, smartphone/iPad applications, etc. In comparison, accessible and universally designed products are extremely few. At Tactopus, we envision a future where every child, irrespective of disabilities, has resources that work for them, that are enjoyable and rich in learning outcomes, so we begin to bridge the inequality that exists today, in access to quality education.
It’s also important to us to make the resources a part of a general, mainstream market so that it’s more commonly available, and not limited to the special education section. Widening the markets we reach also means that accessible resources are valued and understood by more people, and more awareness about nuances of access is always positive.
The reason for lower expectations society has from blind children is because a) we do not appreciate the potential of young minds irrespective of disability, largely since b) we don’t have accessible resources that enable blind children to reach their full potential. Our hope, theory of change, is that when we create accessible resources, it will enable children to learn better and outshine the expectations placed on them.
We work in partnerships with stakeholders who are actively strengthening the learning ecosystem for blind children.