By Wataru Yukita / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff WriterTOKUSHIMA — A former mathematics teacher has developed a computer software program for braille drawing, in which braille bumps are embedded into paper to form pictures, enabling the visually impaired to effectively “see” the images.
For his contributions to the advancement of visually impaired culture, Toshihiro Fujino, 65, was awarded the Kazuo Honma cultural prize by the Japan Braille Library on Nov. 11.
While teaching at the then Tokushima prefectural school for the the visually impaired in 1991, Fujino wanted to show diagrams and graphs to a student. He utilized his knowledge of programming to develop the braille drawing software, which generates and prints braille images using a special printer. He spent about three months completing the software.
At the time, computers were not readily available and braille drawings were limited to textbooks. As a result, teachers and students had no choice but to create braille drawings by hand.
Fujino named the software Edel (a pun meaning “pictures are coming out” in Japanese), and allows users to download it free of charge. He has won praise from teachers and braille transcribers across the country and received a Cabinet Office award for developing Edel.
Fujino has since upgraded the software several times, enabling users to import images and add explanations in braille text, among other additions. He cannot forget how a blind woman expressed her appreciation to him, saying, “I can explain illustrations in a picture book to my child. I’m very happy.”
“The student gave me motivation in life. I want to thank him,” Fujino said. He currently aims to develop a software program for transcribing musical notes into braille. Even in retirement, he still uses his computer every day.Speech