3D printed yearbook helps the blind remember high school

In this digital and visual age, we usually take for granted some of the things that we can see. But what about those who don't have the gift of sight? Fortunately, the same technology that can produce plastic models or artificial dog limbs has become sophisticated and accessible enough that even the blind can benefit from advances in 3D printing. Like for example, this 3D printed yearbook that gives blind students a chance to remember not just the names but also the faces of their classmates and friends.

Some do not look upon high school with fondness, but some do cherish those years. For them, the yearbook (and some scrapbooks) become the record keepers of those times. But a book full of pictures and names probably mean little to someone who can't see them. That is why Korean company 3D TEK worked on a Touchable Yearbook to fix this problem through the magic of 3D printing.

Instead of simply a picture book, these blind students are given 3D printed busts of their classmates, each engraved with the person's name in Braille. This lets the students associate names with faces quite literally. What the blind has lost in sight, they make up for with hearing and touch. The 3D printed heads give the students a very tactile representation of their classmates for them to remember for the rest of their lives.

The 2014 graduating class of Korea's Seoul National School for the Blind was the first recipient of this gift. It might be a simple technological feat for most of us, but it will definitely be a life-changing gift for these young ones and hopefully becomes a trend that catches on in other parts of the world as 3D printers continue to become more affordable and more ubiquitous.