Significance: Toys for children with visual impairment and blindness are very limited. We have developed a three-dimensional (3D)-printed Braille puzzle with a potential for educational use.
Purpose: This article describes the development of a novel Braille toy using 3D printing technology that potentially could be used for teaching Braille for children with blindness and/or profound visual impairment.
Methods: Fittle is a 3D-printed puzzle with embossed Braille letters. Upon correct fitting of the puzzle, one not only can spell the Braille word but also would be able to feel the contour of the representative object that the word denotes. A smartphone application (Sound of Fittle) was developed to be used in conjunction with Fittle. A pilot testing was done on participants with vision impairment. Time taken to solve the puzzle and/or identify the Braille letters was calculated. Three Fittle puzzles were tested. Instructions to solve the puzzle were given only after the first attempt.
Results: Seven participants (one adult and six children) were recruited. The mean time taken for the first attempt was longer (4.5 minutes), and upon instructions, the time taken to solve the puzzle was reduced on an average by a factor of 2.5. All the subjects were able to fit and read the embossed Braille in the Fittle.
Conclusions: Fittle is a novel Braille toy made using 3D printing technology. Fittle can potentially be used as an educational toy. The Sound of Fittle application gives the experiential sound for the associated word. The designs for the Fittle and the application are made available as open source on the Internet. Anyone with an access to a 3D printer can print, produce, and use the Fittle for free. With instructions, an individual can quickly learn to solve and play with the puzzle.