Located in New Brunswick, N.J., the Joseph Kohn Training Center offers the blind and visually impaired a chance to learn necessary skills for independence. From kitchen and communication skills to braille and mobility skills, attendees jump into an intensive training program that lasts 20 weeks.
However, the building maps provided to program attendees, as described by Rutgers Univ., are “clunky, old wooden maps,” and the building has “few braille labels on walls.”
Mechanical engineering student Jason Kim and Prof. Howon Lee, of the Dept. of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, are making strides to improve the maps offered to students via 3D printing.
The idea was spawned from a trip Lee took to the Korea Institute of Technology. While there, he witnessed the institute create educational materials for children with 3D printers.
“I had just learned how to use SolidWorks (3D modeling computer-aided design software) and so this summer project would be a great way to exercise a skill I had just acquired, just for the community,” said Kim in a statement. “He told me about this opportunity and I thought it was perfect.”
According to the Joseph Kohn Training Center, “The most fundamental adjustment to the loss of vision is to learn how to use sensory cues from hearing, touch, taste, and smell more effectively for day to day functioning.”
After receiving feedback from the center’s faculty and students, Kim and Lee finished their design map at the close of summer 2015.
Around the size of a small compute tablet, the new map comes in a binder, and features a legend, which was missing from previous wooden iterations.
Though there is currently only one map in existence, the two hope to lower printing costs to ensure that all attendees of the training center receive a map on their first day. Looking ahead, Lee said he hopes to create maps of the Rutgers campus and New Brunswick.
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