BecDot is a Simple, Inexpensive Toy for Vision-Impaired Kids
Like most technology that is invented, the BecDot is a toy that was created out of the necessity for something. When two parents realized that their daughter needed a unique learning tool that was easier to manage and far more affordable than the existing options, the BecDot was born.
Beth and Jake Lacourse are the proud parents of Rebecca, who suffers from Usher syndrome, which can cause blindness and deafness. Rebecca had some very specific learning needs in her early life, like so many children who suffer from vision impairment. Unfortunately, many kids have only few or no options for learning how to read braille, which often results in falling behind academically and socially.
Rebeca’s parents were looking for a braille-teaching tool that was simple for their daughter to learn with, and inexpensive as well. After doing their research, these parents decided they would have to take matters into their own hands. With a background in product design, Jake began to work on a prototype for his daughter.
The result was a small, rectangular box with four small rectangles on top. A small space at the end leaves room for a children’s toys, each with its own unique tag entered into the BecDot’s app. Parents can make tags for all kinds of toys their children have, including animals, letters and numbers.
Once each item has a tag, they can then be read by the BecDot. Kids have to simply place the object onto the surface, and specific braille letters will begin to form from raised pegs to spell out the words. The words can only be up to four letters long, making it a fairly simple design at this point. However, this toy offers parents the opportunity to teach their children how to read brail with some of the basic vocabulary that sighted children would be learning at the same time.
To integrate connections between items and sounds, parents and teachers also have the option to record sounds for each object. The BecDot offers children the opportunity to maintain the same learning speed as those children without disabilities, and also allows for social interaction while kids play with the BecDot together.
Each of the parts to make this toy were fairly inexpensive, which means putting it on the market could mean a much more affordable option for parents. Jake shared that to make one BecDot costs around $50; however, he imagined he could get it closer to $30.
The Future of BecDot
There have only been prototypes of the BecDot made at this point, but Rebecca’s parents are optimistic about the future of this tech toy. Recently they were chosen for an award from Not Impossible, and eventually this kind of toy could be part of the answer to ensuring individuals with disabilities can grow up to be independent, fully-literate adults. It comes as no surprise that some of our best technology comes from a specific need, or the simple desire to help the people we love.
Have you ever wanted to create something to help a person close to you? Comment below!0