The Joseph Kohn Training Center in New Brunswick has gotten 3-D Braille maps which visually-impaired and blind people at the center can use to get to different floors or navigate the center, courtesy of 25-year-old Jason Kim, a Rutgers University undergraduate and his professor, Howon Lee.
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Kim is a senior mechanical engineering student in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering in Rutger’s School of Engineering, and Lee is an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering who has been conducting a number of previous researches on 3D printing.
“It was a very fulfilling experience,” Kim said. “I learned a lot. The most difficult part was trying to imagine what it would be like to be blind myself so I could better tackle the problem, and it opened my eyes to the whole visually impaired and blind community.”
Professor Lee said he was able to develop the idea for the project after visiting Korea Institute of Science and Technology in South Korea. “Instead of printing letters on top of a 2-diminensional sheet, you just do this over and over again, layer upon layer, until you have a final 3-dimensional product,” he said.
Considering the fact that people with vision loss adjust to day-to-day activities in order to make better use of their sense of touch, smell, taste, hearing, and feeling, the John Kohn Training Center trains visually-impaired folks for 20 weeks on how to gain independence and find a job or be excelling homemakers.
Kim wanted a project that would benefit the community before hitting up the idea of doing something for the blind and visually-impaired, and when he broached the subject of 3D printing of Braille maps with Professor Lee, the latter jumped at it.
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Using state-of-the 3D printers at Rutgers, both Kim and Lee a copy of Braille map which blind and visually impaired persons at the center can use to navigate the center, but hope to make more of the maps so that almost everyone at the center can have a copy to navigate around.