Tom Lauwers
Faculty Advisor: Illah Nourbakhsh

Title: The Electronic Slate and Stylus


Tom Lauwers is a third year Ph.D. student at the Robotics Institute.  He has a long-standing interest in educational robotics, as both a participant in programs like FIRST and later as a designer of a robotics course and education technology.  He is currently studying curriculum development and evaluation and hopes that his study of the educational sciences will help him design better and more useful educational technologies.   Tom received a BS in Electrical Engineering and Public Policy from CMU.

Project Synopsis

In developing countries Braille is almost always written with a slate and stylus. Using these tools, Braille is written in reverse, from right to left, so that the page can be read from left to right when it is flipped over. For blind children, learning to write Braille in this manner can be a formidable process. First, children must learn mirror images of all letters, which essentially doubles the alphabet.   Second, feedback is delayed until the paper is removed and then flipped over and read, so it may take significantly longer to identify mistakes and correct them. The electronic slate and stylus will retain the same use characteristics of a standard slate and stylus, but provide instant audio feedback and allow the user to write both forwards and backwards.   Furthermore, when connected to a computer, the electronic slate will serve as the user input device for an advanced Braille tutor, which will give students Braille writing lessons.