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SIGHT CITY 2018 news, including pictures by Vedat
Paul Hamlyn Foundation
Case study: Nurturing ideas and people
Ed Rogers founded Bristol Braille Technology Community Interest company in 2011 with the goal of helping to reverse the decline in blind literacy. Braille is very important for a blind person’s literacy, education and independence. With an estimated 25,000 blind and partially sighted children and young people in Britain, Braille learning could grow significantly.
The Canute is the world’s first multiple line Braille e-reader that makes digital Braille radically more affordable. In addition, it allows access to musical notation and mathematical formulae.
Since accessing funding at the early stages of development, the Canute has gone on to receive additional funding through comic relief and Paul Hamlyn Foundation’s Tech for Good funding programme, and has also been recognised for furthering accessibility, winning AbilityNet’s accessibility award.
“Printed books are plentiful and affordable, however Braille books are presently scarce and expensive. A reliable, affordable and universally useful electronic Braille book reader has eluded researchers and manufacturers for decades.”
Elizabeth, who is visually impaired, took an active part in the Braillists group. “I use Braille every day of my life; hopefully, Canute will mean I will have access to more books. One practical use is for recipes, which means I could take Canute to the kitchen instead of having to go upstairs to my computer to follow a Braille recipe.”
“Having an affordable multi-line Braille display would be transformative” enthuses Paul, another Braillists member. “It will make studying STEM subjects feasible for blind students. For example Canute will enable them to review computer code across multiple lines of Braille, and thereby to become computer programmers.”
BBC Click 2018-08-28:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/play/w3cswhdr open.live.bbc.co.uk/mediaselector/6/redir/version/2.0/mediaset/audio-nondrm-download-low/proto/http/vpid/p06jn4gz.mp3 Seafile/publicity_material/Audio/Click-20180828_darkweb_canute-360.mp3 ## “Canute 360 from Bristol Braille Technology with Ed Rogers”, by Wade Wingler, Your Assistive Technology Update Episode 360, 20th of April, 2018
Wade Wingler interviews Ed Rogers on the ‘Your Assistive Technology Update’ podcast;
“You cannot be in the world of assistive technology for people who are blind or visually impaired, and even be awake right now, and not have heard about something called Canute 360…”
“Blind musicians to pilot world’s first multi-line braille e-reader”, M-Magazine, 6th of March, 2018
The Canute 360, developed by Bristol Braille Technology, is described by the social enterprise as, ‘the world’s first viable multi-line refreshable Braille e-reader: a “Kindle for blind people.”‘
… The company is inviting musicians who use braille music to join them at RNIB on 16 March for an introduction to and demonstration of the device, along with performances.
… There will also be an opportunity to try the Canute out. For more details and to sign up to the event, click here.
“Blind musicians to pilot ‘world first’ braille machine”, by Katy Wright, Rhinegold Publishing, 5th of March, 2018
More than a dozen professional musicians – all of them blind – will gather at the RNIB in London on 16 March to demonstrate the world’s first multi-line braille e-reader.
The Canute, which will be launched in summer 2018, has been developed by social enterprise Bristol Braille Technology. The size of a laptop, it will enable the musicians to read multiple lines of music at once instead of the single line available with traditional machines.
The musicians will learn, rehearse and then perform a piece by Bach to an audience of music students and examination board representatives.
“New Braille Tech Hits the Right Note”, interview by Allan Russell, RNIB Connect, 1st of February, 2018
A new piece of braille technology will soon be available to buy and it’s ground breaking.
The Canute is like a portable tablet and book reader that can also display graphs and musical notation.
RNIB Connect Radio’s Allan Russell spoke to Stephanie Sergeant to learn more about Canute.
BBC Radio Bristol, Emma Britton & Jonathan Holmes, 30th of January, 2018
Nic Marshall and Ed Rogers from Bristol Braille were joined by Paul Sullivan from the Braillists Foundation on BBC Radio Bristol’s morning programme to discuss the Canute.
Ed is interviewed by Jonathan Holmes @ 00:53:00 into the programme. Nic and Paul are interviewed in the studio by Emma Britton @ 01:50.
There is also a video from Radio Bristol available on Youtube.
“Competition seeks the UK’s 10 best inventions”, Sky News, 28th of January, 2018
Canute is a “Kindle for blind people”, which Bristol Braille have been working on in collaboration with the blind community, including Steph Sergeant, for five years.
The Canute is designed to be affordable at £800, and will be the world’s first multiline digital Braille display.
Existing braille displays on the market cost thousands and are only capable of showing one line. The Canute can be used for maths, music, textbooks and tables - and will be able to load text files by SD cards and USB connections.
— Sky News
“The tech gadgets we can actually get excited about in 2018: E-reader for blind people”, by Olivia Solon, The Guardian, 28th of December, 2017
Bristol Braille Technology has developed an affordable braille e-reader for blind people called Canute. The device, which can store thousands of braille e-book files, is the world’s first multiple line braille e-reader. Having the option of multiple lines in the display allows for true context to Braille maths, music, tabular data and science books.
The plan is to sell Canute for the price of an iPhone (under £800), which would make it 20 times cheaper than existing digital Braille devices. The device has been tested in the UK and the US and is designed to improve blind literacy, education and employment.
“Disability tech goes mainstream”, by Andrew Jack & Sarah Murray, Financial Times, October 26th, 2017
How much shelf space does it take to house JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy? Several cubic feet if it is a Braille edition, according to social entrepreneur Ed Rogers. That isn’t the only problem. Most digital Braille readers cost thousands of pounds.
Rogers is trying to change this with the help of a blind community group called the Braillists and Bristol Braille Technology (BBT), a company of sighted engineers. They are developing the Canute, a device Rogers describes as ‘like a Kindle for Braille’ that will make Braille literacy ‘radically more affordable’.
“»Kindle für Blinde« bekommt Sonderpreis Barrierefreiheit”, Buchreport, 5th of October, 2017
Der Deutsche E-Book-Award hat einen Sonderpreis für Barrierefreiheit ausgelobt. Gewinner ist nach einstimmigem Jury-Votum das britische am Gemeinwohl orientierte Unternehmen Bristol Braille Technology mit ihrem Produkt „Canute“, einem E-Reader für Sehbehinderte, der Texte in Braille-Schrift abbildet.
Die Verleihung des Sonderpreises an Unternehmensgründer Ed Rogers übernimmt die Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für die Belange von Menschen mit Behinderungen, die blinde ehemalige Profi-Biathletin Verena Bentele.
“Der deutsche eBook award 2017 auf der zielgeraden”, Digital Publishing Report, 5th of October, 2017
Der Gewinner des Sonderpreises für Barriere-freiheit im digitalen Literaturraum mit einstim- migem und klarem Jury-Votum ist das britische am Gemeinwohl orientierte Unternehmen Bristol Braille Technology mit ihrem Produkt „Canute“.
Bristol Braille Technology hat sich zum Ziel gesetzt, den Rückgang der Braille-Alpha- betisierung aufzuhalten und eine revolutionär innovative und vor allem aber auch bezahlbare Braille-Technologie zu entwickeln: den „Canute eReader“.
“Making a Multi-Line Braille E-Reader | Tech For Good”, Martha Young, Comic Relief, Youtube, 4th of September, 2017
Bristol Braille have created the first multi-line braille e-reader: a ‘Kindle’ for blind people, which could help to reverse the decline in Braille literacy. Part of the 2016 Tech for Good programme, co-funded by Comic Relief and Paul Hamlyn Foundation. For more info visit http://www.techforgoodhub.co.uk
“Bristol Braille wins AbilityNet’s Tech4Good Accessibility Award”, TechSpark, 3rd of August, 2017
Canute has been such a tremendous success as it’s been designed by and for blind people, thus pinpointing and tackling the exact problems blind people face. The reader can display a full page of numbers and words, which may sound like basic stuff but makes the Canute incredibly unique as others readers will only show a single line of text.
Bristol Braille wishes to sell their technology for 20 times cheaper than the current equivalent, which can set you back 1000s of pounds, to the price an iPhone may cost. This is crucial as presently blind people have no alternative options if this is out of their budget.
“Reporting from the National Federation of the Blind 2017”, by Ed Rogers, the Braillists Foundation, Youtube, 2nd of August, 2017
Ed Rogers, Braillists Foundation, reports from the National Federation of the Blind 2017 Convention, Rosen Shingle Creek Resort, Orlando, Florida.
“Bristol-based technology offers affordable access to Braille”, visit by Karin Smyth, MP, 24th of July, 2017
Karin Smyth MP joined blind and partially-sighted people in Bedminster to see ground-breaking technology that promises access to Braille at a fraction of the cost of conventional means.
Bristol Braille Technology (BBT), a not-for-profit company based at Bristol Hackspace, Bedminster, has developed the world’s first multiline digital Braille eBook reader, Canute. Managing Director Ed Rodgers joined the Bristol South MP and a group of local blind and partially sighted people who demonstrated the new technology.
“Tech4Good Awards 2017 winners announced”, Kate Russell, 18th of July, 2017
The winners of the seventh AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards have been announced at at BT Centre, London.
I was privileged to co-host Tech4Good Awards for the third year running and to meet such a diverse range of amazing people whose innovations directly benefit individuals as well as larger communities.
Bristol Braille Technology is building a revolutionary and radically affordable Braille e-reader for blind people called Canute, designed with and by the blind community. The Canute is the world’s first multiple line Braille e-reader, forty characters per line by nine lines, and it will be affordable too. They want to be able to sell it for the price of a Perkins typewriter or iPhone. This would make it 20 times cheaper than existing digital Braille devices.
“Technology can save lives, not just improve them”, Anna Bawden, The Guardian, 11th of July, 2017
I’m pleased to report that there are many amazing tech entrepreneurs working across the globe to create a brighter digital future.
Among the winners in the eight categories who were announced yesterday, are Bristol Braille Technology, the winner of the accessibility award. The social enterprise has created an affordable braille electronic reader, designed with, by and for blind people. Unlike existing readers which can only display a single line of text, Bristol Braille’s device can show a full page of words and numbers. This means users can deliver speeches, use spreadsheets easily and read music notation, scientific and mathematical formulas. Currently being trialled in Britain, Ireland and the US, the social enterprise hopes to launch the device later this year or early 2018 for around £600–£800.
Canute Mark 11 Prototype Video, Liam Smyth, Bristol Braille Technology, Youtube, 16th of June, 2017
The Canute from Bristol Braille Technology - The world’s first Braille E-reader. Abilitynet tech4good awards people choice finalist 2017: Vote for Canute here: http://bit.ly/2sO56py or Tweet with the hashtag #tech4goodbristolbraille before 5pm, Friday 23rd June.
“One Man’s Vision Creates Braille E-Reader”, Simon de Bruxelles, The Times, 22nd of April, 2017
It may resemble a laptop but inside this new e-reader for the blind is a complex mechanism that has more in common with an 18th-century automaton than a modern electronic device.
The Canute contains more than 1,000 cogs, pinions and mechanical connectors, and turns text downloaded from a USB stick into the raised bumps that form the letters in braille — a complex and expensive task.
Ed Rogers did not know any blind people when he decided to design an affordable braille e-reader.
He first set himself the challenge while studying for a degree in animation at the University West of England… [Paywall]
“The Bristol Braille Canute”,
with Steven Scott, RNIB Tech Talk podcast, 27th of March, 2017
“With Bristol Braille’s Canute, you will be able to condense your braille library into one simple reading device.”
“Canute Brailler and Amit Patel’s camera-carrying guide dog”, with Peter White, In Touch, BBC Radio 4, 10th of January, 2017
Ed Rogers demonstrated the Canute to Peter White;
“The Canute is the latest development in refreshable multi-line Braille and is demonstrated by Ed Rogers from Bristol Braille Technology.
“Sean Randall is a teacher at Worcester New College where the Canute has been tested by students. Sean talks to Peter about its pros and cons.”
“New Braille reader will help New College Worcester pupils with job prospects”, by Alicia Kelly, Worcester News, January, 2017
“SCHOOLCHILDREN from New College Worcester have tried out a new multi-line Braille eReader.
“The youngsters were able to see how the machine, called Canute, could allow up to nine lines of Braille on a single display.
“The development is important because previously digital Braille displays have cost thousands of pounds and only showed a single line at a time.
“The new eReader will hopefully help improve literacy skills for pupils at the College, which caters for those who are blind or visually impaired.”
“Blind Students ‘gob smacked’ by First Multi-line Braille eReader” 16th of December, 2016
This month teaching staff and blind schoolchildren in Worcester got their hands on Canute - the world’s first low-cost multi-line Braille eReader.
Digital Braille displays have typically cost thousands of pounds and were restricted to showing a single line of Braille at a time. Canute has been developed by Bristol Braille Technology using a radical new technology to keep costs down. It is hoped that by rendering multiple Braille lines, Canute can help improve literacy skills thought to be crucial for the employment of blind people.
Describing the students’ reaction to Canute, Sean Randall, IT specialist and teaching assistant at New College Worcester, said;
“The kids were gob smacked. Canute is the only device we know of that renders up to nine Braille lines on a single display. Multiline Braille provides blind students with a greater appreciation for: page layout, tables, mathematics, music notation and computer code. These are all fields where blind people can be gainfully employed.”
— Sean Randall, New College Worcester
Bristol Braille Technology, the community interest company set-up to develop Canute, hope the results of educational trials will attract further partnerships to make Canute widely available to blind people excluded by existing Braille technologies and funding schemes.
For 3 years, Bristol Braille Technology has been in close collaboration with the Braillists – a community of Braille enthusiasts – who have provided valuable testing feedback used to refine Canute throughout its development.
Organizations with an interest in Braille literacy are invited to collaborate with Bristol Braille Technology to help take Canute to market.
“Ed joins us to talk about Bristol Braille Technology” VI Talk Podcast, 3rd of December, 2016
“Meeting groups in Bristol for Braille Enthusiasts”, Vision South West, Action for Blind People, December, 2016
“A community group called the Braillists meets regularly in the Watershed, Bristol, to test out new technology, learn about Braille resources and advocate for greater Braille provision. Founded in 2014 it now has over 240 members across the country, with the Bristol group one of the most active.
“They have worked with transcribers, Braille libraries and New College Worcester. One of their most exciting projects is a radically more affordable multiline Braille e-reader called Canute, being developed by Bristol Braille Technology for under £600. The Braillists help test and design the Canute as co-developers.”
“PwC Social Entrepreneurs Club Awards 2016. Innovation category winner: Bristol Braille”, Price Waterhouse Coupers, 15th of November, 2016
Our 2016 awards event took place on 15 November at Brigade, celebrating twelve shortlisted entrants and our three worthy winners, Money A+E, Bristol Braille Technology CIC and Total Reuse CIC.
Innovation category winner: Bristol Braille Technology CIC
A social enterprise working to help reverse the decline in blind literacy through the development of an affordable Braille e-reader called Canute, designed with and by the blind community.
Category shortlist: Bristol Braille Technology CIC, Elvis & Kresse, John Taylor Hospice, Your Own Place CIC
“Turning the tide: Canute – the world’s first affordable multiline Braille ebook reader” A2i, November, 2016
“The soon-to-be-launched Canute is an affordable digital Braille reader and heralds the start of the democratisation of Braille literacy, increasing opportunities for tactile reading.”
“This New System will Help the Blind to Read” by Freddie Dawson, Forbes, 25th of October, 2016
“Bristol Braille Technology (BBT) is a UK startup run as a not-for-profit. It is developing Canute, a digital Braille reader capable of displaying multiple lines at the same time.
“BBT hopes to bring Canute – currently in its tenth prototype – to market next year. It is a unique product that represents a different approach to literacy and wider learning amongst the sight impaired community.”
“Canute: Using Braille to make ‘Kindles for blind people’” by Kittle Knowles, The Memo, 10th of October, 2016
“Canute is for anyone: that includes blind adults and children, and people who are going blind and wish to learn Braille pre-emptively.
“Rogers wants to see it rolled out in schools and in public places where information is displayed and updated – such as libraries, theatres, bus and train stations.”
“The Canute is an Open Source design, so developers can extend its functionality to different needs and requirements.
““We intend to play our part in reversing the decline in Braille literacy,” says Rogers.”
“Bringing Braille Brack from the Brink” by Ann Burke, Bristol Cable, 9th Edition
“Braille literacy has been in dramatic decline. Yet in Bristol, users and innovators are joining forces to create technology to save it.
“Braille is an incredibly powerful tool for control over your life and for employment. Braille is essential to literacy for visually impaired people and for so many practical, day-to-day tasks.”
— Paul Sullivan
“That’s the view of Paul Sullivan, an engagement officer at Bristol Museum and lifelong braille user. He’s passionate about braille literacy and is a founding member of the Braillists, a community of users and advocates with branches in Bristol, Reading and Dublin.
“The group came together when they were invited to product-test an exciting new device. Developed by community interest company Bristol Braille Technology, the Canute is essentially a braille e-book reader with a refreshable display, which can read and convert files from a USB stick.”
“CSUN 2016 Conference Ushers in ‘The Year of Braille’” by Shelly Brisbin, AFB AccessWorld, American Foundation for the Blind, April 2016 Issue
“If this year’s International Technology and Persons with Disability Conference (CSUN)–held March 23 to March 26 in San Diego, California–was any guide, braille is making a comeback, and users will soon have a number of new hardware options to choose from, in several price ranges.
“Another entry in the reduced-cost braille sweepstakes is Bristol Braille’s Canute, a multi-line device that the developers hope can become a ‘Kindle for blind people.’ The Mk8 prototype, available for hands-on demos at CSUN, is about the size of a desktop scanner, and features eight lines of 32 braille cells each. That’s 256 cells per page, at a cost estimated by Bristol Braille of $4 per cell. The Canute isn’t a braille display, but a reading oriented device to which you add BRF files via USB. The multi-line design makes the device an interesting option for viewing tabular information such as a calendar, or computer code.”
“Canute — A Renaissance for Braille” by Peter Abrahams, Bloor Research, 14th of February, 2016
“What is needed is a Braille page display. Given the high cost of Braille displays this seems like a pipe-dream, but if it could be done at an affordable price it should renew interest in Braille.
“Bristol Braille Technology CIC was set up specifically to find a solution to this challenge. To produce a robust reliable Braille page display and sell it for about a third of the price of existing single line displays.
“When this goes into production it should herald a renaissance in the use of Braille across the world.”
For news and press releases before 2016 see our archives: Canute, Midas, Quixote news; 1st of February, 2008 – 10th of June, 2016