Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

BrailleWise, aircraft toilet: Making air travel easier for visually impaired people

Date:
February 3, 2013
Source:
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Summary:
Scientists have designed a new aircraft lavatory called BrailleWise®, giving visually impaired people greater independence and comfort when using toilets on airplanes.

A horizontal beam includes signs in Braille letters for all functions showing where visually impaired users can find any amenity easily.
Credit: Image courtesy of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University has designed a new aircraft lavatory called BrailleWise®, giving visually impaired people greater independence and comfort when using toilets on airplanes.

Braille is a tactile writing system used by the blind and those with serious vision impairment. It was invented in 1824 by Louis Braille who went blind as a toddler after an accident. Even though he could not see, he was desperate to read. Drawing inspiration from a military night writing code, the 15-year-old school boy developed a set of raised dot alphabets that allowed him to read and complete his education.

Just as the Braille inventor, people with visual disability work hard to adjust to a life without sight. In total darkness and unknown places they can hardly orientate. Every day they face much discomfort when getting around, using public transports and toilets. Therefore, the School of Design at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University has recently designed a new aircraft lavatory especially for them by providing an organized system for reading Braille and other tactile information. This unconventional design is called BrailleWise®, which gives good indication to quickly find and use lavatories on planes. With BrailleWise®, the visually impaired people can now enjoy greater independence and comfort when using toilets.

Braille toilet signs are not a common sight on plane and even if they exist, they can only be found next to an amenity. But BrailleWise® goes about it differently. Beams are put up around a lavatory compartment showing simple directions. A beam with signs in Braille letters for all functions will show the visually impaired users where they can find the amenities such as toilet rolls. The tactile signs on the beam show the names of the amenities along with upward or downward arrows pointing to their actual locations.

Once in a cabin lavatory, a visually impaired person can instantly feel the presence of the Braille beams at waist level. Running his/her fingers down the beam, a user can quickly locate a wanted function such as the toilet bowl, the flush handle and the wash basin. With good bearings, one can move around freely and independently with greater confidence without relying on a guide. He/she does not need to feel around and risk touching the toilet seat anymore, which is often covered in filthy stains.

Travelling and sightseeing are great ways to connect with people. The leader of Public Design Lab in School of Design, Prof. Michael Siu, wanted to make public toilets accessible and comfortable so that the visually impaired people would face less struggles on the go. "Using the toilet in public places is not that straight-forward for the visually impaired. Finding their way around in unfamiliar territory is a big challenge for them. That's why they would usually avoid using public toilets by not eating and drinking. But it is not healthy," said Prof. Siu, who has been working with his fellow researchers and the Hong Kong Blind Union since 2000 on products that cater to the special needs of the visually impaired. "Their disability shouldn't take away their social life and exclude them from society," said Prof. Siu.

The modern, chic-looking design blends seamlessly into the décor of the cabin lavatory. It means a lot to the visually impaired who work very hard as self-supporting and contributing members of the society and want minimal obstructions to the people around.

BrailleWise® is a simple and economical solution that can transform any public toilet into a barrier-free space in no time.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. "BrailleWise, aircraft toilet: Making air travel easier for visually impaired people." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 February 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130203145424.htm>.
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. (2013, February 3). BrailleWise, aircraft toilet: Making air travel easier for visually impaired people. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130203145424.htm
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. "BrailleWise, aircraft toilet: Making air travel easier for visually impaired people." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130203145424.htm (accessed September 23, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Liberia Pleads for Help to Fight Ebola

Liberia Pleads for Help to Fight Ebola

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) — Liberia's finance minister is urging the international community to quickly follow through on pledges of cash to battle Ebola. Bodies are piling up in the capital Monrovia as the nation awaits more help. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Doctor Says Border Controls Critical

Ebola Doctor Says Border Controls Critical

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) — A Florida doctor who helped fight the expanding Ebola outbreak in West Africa says the disease can be stopped, but only if nations quickly step up their response and make border control a priority. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Global Ebola Aid Increasing But Critics Say It's Late

Global Ebola Aid Increasing But Critics Say It's Late

Newsy (Sep. 21, 2014) — More than 100 tons of medical supplies were sent to West Africa on Saturday, but aid workers say the global response is still sluggish. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) — Sierra Leone residents remained in lockdown on Saturday as part of a massive effort to confine millions of people to their homes in a bid to stem the biggest Ebola outbreak in history. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins