Home 3D Printing 3D Printed Instructional Fashions for the Visually Impaired

3D Printed Instructional Fashions for the Visually Impaired

3D Printed Instructional Fashions for the Visually Impaired


Neal McKenzie is an educator devoted to spreading the phrase about how 3D printing and design can assist the visually impaired.

Posted on December 20, 2017


Chris Morgan

Neal McKenzie is an Assistive Know-how Specialist for the Visually Impaired Division on the Sonoma County Workplace of Training, which works with Blind and Low Imaginative and prescient college students Okay-12. He helps his college students use 3D printing expertise to be able to make their training extra accessible and extra comfy.

A short while after beginning his work with visually impaired college students, Neal started to comprehend that 3D printing might be a improbable instrument to tremendously improve the educational expertise for his college students:

“About 5-6 years in the past me and the Braillist I labored with have been beginning to learn completely different articles and posts about 3D prints getting used for various blind and visually impaired individuals all around the world. We began actually speaking in regards to the potential to create and print real-world, 3D tactile fashions in home and the way that would profit the particular inhabitants we’re in a position to work with. The probabilities have been thrilling!”

Neal working with students using a BrailleThing 2.0

Neal working with college students utilizing a BrailleThing 2.0

After performing some severe analysis and arising with a proposal to combine 3D printing into their curriculum, Neal was in a position to buy a LulzBot TAZ 5 to start out his 3D printing journey.

Beginning with TinkerCAD, and with fundamental PLA filament and ABS filament, Neal started to design practical, helpful instruments to assist his visually impaired college students:

“In a short-term, extra on a regular basis scale, my prints assist the scholars I work with to be extra unbiased and entry a particular idea or project like a tactile math graphing system or Braille studying tactile sport. This protects me, the lecturers, and our superior Braillist a number of time producing these items time and again and offers our children much less dependence on us. Long run, designing these prints offers me the expertise to have a look at an issue of entry and have the ability to have 3D printing as a risk in a bag of so many various instruments. Additionally long run, making a 3D print that bridges that hole to entry permits you to have the print able to go or at the very least have a strong idea to construct on and/or personalize.”

Specialized cane cart holders Neal designed

Specialised cane cart holders Neal designed

In 3D designing and dealing with college students and different educators within the Visually Impaired teams in and round California, Neal has seen some optimistic adjustments within the instructing course of and the scholars themselves:

“I’d like to assume my 3D prints have helped stage the taking part in area to entry. I walked right into a classroom to work with a blind pupil who was ending up a math lesson that was being directed by the classroom instructor. He was maintaining with the lesson utilizing a 3D printed math manipulative I had designed for him. I used to be additionally simply observing a youthful pupil who has a visible impairment together with Cerebral Palsy writing his identify utilizing a 3D printed information I had designed for him which helped him attain his Individualized Training Program purpose and gave him an enormous confidence increase. My favourite prints are these which might be utilized in a extra inclusive method. For instance, I work with an 8th grade blind pupil who was handed a problem-solving project that used trains, vehicles a tunnel and a barn. The project was a phrase drawback with a number of pictures on a sheet of paper. I 3D printed all of the items and put them on a tactile monitor, which included directions in Braille and print. The scholar liked being to work via this drawback in a hands-on and tactile approach that he and his sighted friends may each use aspect by aspect which made this project completely inclusive. I’m able to have a number of these experiences on a weekly foundation, which is basically fulfilling and motivating for me.”

Neal's 3D designs available on TinkerCAD for download

Neal’s 3D designs obtainable on TinkerCAD for obtain

Whereas Neal is extraordinarily enthusiastic about what 3D printing is bringing to his school rooms now, he does see room for extra progress in strategies and processes for visually impaired college students:

“I actually hope to see the usage of 3D printing in my area proceed to develop and be considered as a authentic instrument for individuals who work with the blind and visually impaired. It makes a lot sense to me that the flexibility to provide these limitless tactile fashions and dealing with college students with visible impairments goes hand in hand. Additionally to see extra collaboration with the maker motion as a complete and accessibility.”

“I’d like to see extra 3D printers with easy audio output that will make them accessible for these with visible impairments, and 3D modeling software program that was utterly constructed with accessibility in thoughts. There are some that work happy with display screen readers proper now, however none I do know of constructed particularly for accessibility and are simple to leap proper into.”

For extra info on Neal and his applications, take a look at a few of the hyperlinks under:

Video tutorials on a few of the 3D tutorial instruments Neal makes use of:


Nice video by Autodesk Training highlighting Neal and the work he does in Sonoma County:


An excellent article about how Neal ready for the ‘Massive Ask’ to get approval for 3D printers in his classroom is right here (credit score to Jessica McDowell of the Perkins College for the Blind):


Need to be our subsequent Hacker of the Month? E-mail chris.morgan@matterhackers.com, and inform us about your 3D printed creation – you may be featured in our subsequent publication. Hacker of the Month wins 3 free spools of PRO Sequence PLA or ABS filament to additional their pursuit of 3D printing greatness.



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