Snail Reader Concept Brings Braille to Voice Feature

Snail Braille readerBraille was developed in 1825 and since then has been enormously helpful in allowing blind people to read. But there are limitations on it, such as the difficulty in going back and finding a previous passage to re-read.

Snail is a concept from Wonkook Lee for a Braille reader that can be carried anywhere and run over any Braille text to produce an audible “text-to-voice” effect. It’s basically a rolling wheel, with a contacting pressure-sensitive touchpad surface to detect the presence and patterns of raised Braille points. The device houses a speaker, but would also have Bluetooth connectivity for use with a headset for quiet reading when that is desired. To help recall what’s been read before, there is a recording and playback function.

In addition to the issues with finding previous passages, it also addresses difficulties in learning to read by touch and the slow pace that Braille reading often requires.

Are you blind, or do you know someone who is? Would this be a useful tool to make reading easier? Let us know in the comments.

(via DVICE and Yanko Design)


  1. Juju says

    This would be a great device for the “Braille-impaired”–such as sighted people who work with blind children. Blind children are often enrolled in regular public schools where they receive some instruction from a specially trained teacher, but the majority of their instruction comes from the regular classroom teacher. This device would allow the regular classroom teacher to read the child’s work as soon as the child turns it in instead of waiting for the Teacher of the Visually Impaired to come and transcribe it into print.

  2. Jessi says

    I see this as an awesome thing for people who can’t read braille, it takes away the need for someone to transcribe it into print. but I’m not so sold on it as a device to be used by braille readers. One of the things I enjoy most about reading braille is the fact that it’s the only way I can read without having something read it to me. These days there are lots of screenreaders for computers and mobile devices and audio books that allow things to be read to me and it’s true, that is how I do most of my reading now, but braille is the one way where I can read and hear my own voice in my head reading the words. Something would really be missing for me if I read braille by running a device over the page and having it read back to me. It would take away lots of the enjoyment I get from reading it. From a literary point of view, this device takes away the ability to read. You don’t have to know how to read braille to use the snail braille, you just run it over the page and it reads it. In my opinion, if a person who is blind can’t read braille or large print and relies on a screenreader for everything they are illiterate. That’s just my opinion though and of course feel free to disagree, but that’s how I see it. The rate of braille literacy is already going way down and because of that, this device scares me. Braille literacy is important and doesn’t need to die even more than it already is. It’s true that braille is bulky and takes up way more space than print, but there are lots of braille note takers and braille displays that are just as portable as a print book and allow us to read braille on the go. We can also use them to find certain passages and we can probably do it faster than running a device over the page. I don’t think I read any slower than my sighted peers, either. If anything I think I probably read faster. So, in conclusion, I think the snail braille is awesome for people who can’t read braille, but is a really bad idea for braille readers.

    And I’m gonna completely ignore the words used by the previous commenter…I’m saying it loud I’m blind and I’m proud! and I won’t even comment on his use of the word handicapped…seriously.

    • Profile photo of Dave Peterson says

      Thanks for giving us your perspective, Jessi. The matter of hearing your own voice in your head is an interesting one, and I can see how losing that would be something to avoid. I’d hate to see people rely on something like this to the exclusion of actually learning how to read Braille. Technology can help us certainly, but we know how quickly it can fail us, and being too dependent is always a bad idea.

  3. says

    Hello Dave,
    thank you for this well written article.

    This “Snail Reader Concept Brings Braille to Voice Feature” finally brings Braille reading on the go for the blind and visual challenged people among us. This one heck of a portable device for those visually handicapped patients.

    Now they can read, like the rest of us, on the go where ever they go. In one word: Awesome 8)

    Take care,