I, Paul D’souza, am immensely thankful and grateful for the support and help that I have received from the following people;
1) Dr. Keith N Shaw, a scientist who worked on Braille Display technology (apart from missile tech!) and a veteran in the field for over 40 years. Dr Shaw has evaluated literally dozens of schemes and designs for me over the course of the last 8 years I have been on this project.
2) N Krishnaswamy, Ramesh Iyer and Airala Kumar with whom I worked with over the course of more than year at Vellore in 2009/2010. Kumar and myself worked endlessly on numerous designs where we concentrated on building the mechanics of Mr Krishnaswamy’s ‘Natesan Brailler’ to make a functioning prototype. Ramesh Iyer took care of all the electronic hardware and software. As a team, we managed to actually get a functional device ready for Mr Krishnaswamy to demonstrate at a World Blind Union conference in Leipzig, Germany in 2011.
Ramesh Iyer and Kumar continued to help me with the development of the other Braille Display technologies I was working on. Kumar literally got hundreds (no exaggeration) of parts fabricated for me involving multiple versions of different Braille Displays! Ramesh continued to help with the electronics right up to the development of the first micro motor selector early version of Touché that was referred to as SLRBD 1.
3)Dr H N Shankar, dean of academics and research at CMR Institute of Technology who has been a friend and guide for these 8 years. I got the highest recommendation from him and Dr Murali Shankar in letters of recommendation to the government to give me a grant to assist me with my experimentation on the development of the Braille Displays.
4)Sabriye Tenberken and Paul Kronenberg, co-founders of Braille Without Borders and Kanthari have been my most eager supporters and friends since 2010! I had first met one of their staff – Rahul Gonsalves who was also instrumental in setting up meetings with Mr N Krishnaswamy, Ramesh Iyer, and Paul & Sab.
5) Tiffany Brar, whom I met at Kanthari, has been an inspiration and a close friend.Tiffy was also the person who requested me to make ‘something to help us identify currency notes’.
This request led me to make what is now called the ‘Tiffy template’ that has been crowd funded and is available free to any blind person or organisation who needs them. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KsYRbFbbwXI
6)Poonam Vaidya, a good friend of mine for many years now. Being a ‘late blind’ she has been able to give us insights and understanding that very few can give. She is one of the few who have perspective on both sides of the spectrum! Poo has helped with testing and advice from the early versions of SLRBD 1.
6) Chandana Chandrashekar and her family – mom Latha, father Chandrashekar and brother Charan have been amongst our closest friends for the last couple of years. Chandana has given us advice, done testing and made herself available for us whenever we needed. Chandana tested all our devices and she was the first person to demonstrate ‘Touché to the public in Oct 2015. She and her family have also started a Trust called ‘Envision Trust’ to assist other people with disabilities. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIhBAE7ikRo
7)The team from Sapient Razorfish who have worked tirelessly for a year and a half now to take Touché and productize it. When I met them at Bangalore’s first mini maker faire in Oct 2015, we had demonstrated Touché bleu and SLRBD 1. Harry Samson, one of their senior tech guys and his team invited me to Gurgaon to speak to their company. Sanjay Menon( VP) , asked what plans I had to take the project forward. I mentioned that I needed to productize it and develop software to make it work. Two weeks later they came back with an offer that they would assist with the product and software development which has resulted in the current 8 dot Braille E-Reader – Touché! The team I have worked withand am deeply grateful for from SapientRazorfish’s Kepler Lab are areAlok Kumar (team lead ) , Harry Samson, Ajay Vishnu, Ishaan Shrivastava, Vasu Agrawal, Mayank, Surendra, Samarth Shah, & Parul. www.touche.world
8) Jayarama Reddy and his son Suraj, at who’s workshop ‘Supreme Enterprises’ most of my fabrication and machining activity took place over the course of these last 8 years. Reddy was always available to undertake assignments and jobs that most times went against his better judgement! But unlike others, he was willing to try and allowed me the liberty to use his premises and facilities whenever I need them.
9) Mr V B Richard and his wife Vinodha – both blind – have been friends for some years now and have also been involved in advice and testing whenever we have had need. The Richard family have been involved with this project from SLRBD V1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJXhTehHPGo
10)Ruby Alphonse is a blind music teacher. Ruby did some initial testing of SLRBD for us and encouraged us along the way. She is an example of a strong and independent woman and lives alone. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGHRriIpwFw
11) Jyothi Seva School for the Blind. Sr Anitha , staff and students from Jyothi Seva allowed us to do an intensive round of Alpha testing at their school. Every one of those who participated were a source of encouragement and joy. The youngest students Chetan and Afya who participated in the testing were a real delight! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6PqBxJBN-JQ
12) Staff and students from Deepa Academy for the Differently Abled. Mr Shantaram , the founder is a mutual friend of the Chandrashekar family and we met at a function organised by them. Mr Shantaram has been a great source of encouragement along with his staff and students and we conducted some of our Alpha testing of Touché at the Deepa Academy.
13)Pranav Savla, his parents Asha and Bhaven and sister Piri. Pranav was one of our youngest testers of Touché during the Alpha testing phase. Pranav learnt to use Touché in a few minutes without much instruction. The Savla family was introduced to me by my friend Mili Srivastava. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xl6zxjH29E4
14)Mili Srivastava, RangaThota (CEO) and Niranjana Harish from ‘Fuel A Dream’ organised a successful crowd funding campaign to produce the ‘Tiffy Template’ and make them available to the blind in India. As a result of their efforts and enthusiasm and the success of their campaign, any blind person or organisation working with the blind can ask for and receive any number of these templates absolutely free, anywhere in India. Mili and the rest of the team at FAD have been amongst our greatest friends and supporters and PRO’s! www.fueladream.com
My Mother Merlyn Dsouza who tops the list of supporters and who has encouraged me all my life in all my pursuits no matter how ridiculous some of them have been! She has also endured the most stress coming to terms with the realisation that this project (like most others) will never end!! . Worse…she has also come to the realisation that a hundred other projects will be started simultaneously before any one of the other previous hundred are ever likely to be completed!
And the others – too many to mention, family, friends and well wishers. Even total strangers who have written in. We are grateful.