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Blind pupils can 'see' their drawings with new 3D pen

3Doodler's updated 3D printing pens get the official seal of approval from Royal National Institute of Blind People

Posted by Hannah Vickers | July 18, 2017 | Product news

3Doodler has updated its 3D printing pens, lowering the heat and adding tactile buttons to make them safer and easier to use.

The new version, released in June 2017, has won a product endorsement from the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), which awards its ‘RNIB Approved’ quality assurance mark to products it identifies as “easy-to-use” for those who are blind or partially sighted. 

The 3Doodler Start pen was tested by several groups of students who are blind, partially sighted or have other disabilities, and their teachers. These teachers commented in the study that the 3Doodler Start, in addition to being fun for students to use, is also useful for teaching maths, drawing diagrams or teaching symmetry, as an alternative option which can sometimes replace the need for swell paper – a heat-sensitive paper often used by teachers of visually impaired students that swells when heat is applied to produce a raised image. 

I’ve always felt that if I could see I would enjoy painting but I haven't had the opportunity - Margaret Wilson-Hinds, study participant

One of the participants from the study, Margaret Wilson-Hinds, commented: “I’ve always felt that if I could see I would enjoy painting but I haven't had the opportunity. 3Doodler is a totally different thing altogether and I really enjoyed using it."  

Maths teacher, Julia Weston, from a specialist school for blind and partially sighted children in Birmingham commented: “It’s the best thing since sliced bread. 3Doodler’s pens are not only a really nice art tool but an important teaching aid that we can pick up and use on the spot, without any pre-planning. It is making subjects and topics far more accessible, especially in maths where shape and space can be particularly difficult to grasp for blind and partially sighted students. It helps me to establish their level of understanding so we can fill in the gaps and ensure they can use tactile diagrams instantly and effectively.” 

The latest version of the 3Doodler START has been adapted to include tactile buttons to help those with sight loss more easily locate the stop and start buttons and the on/off buttons. Feedback from the testing phase of the official RNIB study led to the development of new audio instructions, accessible through the 3Doodler website, in order to help users get started and orient the pens for 3D drawing. 

We envision a world where every person, from children to grandparents, regardless of ability, can use a 3Doodler 3D pen to unlock their creativity and bring their ideas to life - Max Bogue, CEO and co-creator of 3Doodler

“We envision a world where every person, from children to grandparents, regardless of ability, can use a 3Doodler 3D pen to unlock their creativity and bring their ideas to life,” said Max Bogue, CEO and co-creator of 3Doodler. 

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