This 13-Year-Old Built a Revolutionary Product — With a Lego Kit — to Help Blind People

When Shubham Banerjee learned that the average Braille printer can cost upwards of $2,000, he knew there had to be a way to make a more accessible version. So, armed with a Lego robotics kit, the 13-year-old set to work creating one.

His printer, which costs around $350, took about a month to build and was completed in time for Shubham to showcase it at his school’s 2014 Science Fair, his father, Neil, told USA Today. But the teen didn’t stop there. Using components from a desktop printer and an Intel chip with WiFi and Bluetooth technolgogy, Shubham created a prototype for the printer, which he then took to Intel. A couple months later, the company agreed to back his project.

With help from his parents, Shubham created his own start-up company, Braigo Labs (a combination of the words “braille” and “lego”), which is currently working on a printer design to manufacture on a larger scale.

Shubham’s design weighs just a few pounds, compared with existing versions that can weigh more than 20 pounds, The Associated Press reported.

Shubham’s goal is to make the printer widely available so people who are blind can buy an assembled version in stores.

Watch Shubham demonstrate his incredible invention in the video below.


h/t Reddit Uplifting News

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Watch the Magical Moment this Legally Blind Mother Sees Her Newborn for the First Time

Kathy Beitz, 29, from Guelph, Canada, has a degenerative eye condition called Stargardt disease that’s left her with only a little bit of blurry peripheral vision, Guelph Mercury reported. She’s considered legally blind. Stargardt disease is a form of inherited juvenile macular degeneration that causes the loss of central vision and also affects the ability to see color, according to Fighting Blindness.

Beitz never expected to be given the opportunity to see her own child, but thanks to a special pair of glasses, she was able to look closely at her son, Askel, after his birth last December, according to Guelph Mercury.

A company called eSight developed the glasses, which work by combining camera display technology and advanced computing to deliver a real-time video, according to the eSight website. The user can change brightness or increase zoom until they can see, according to eSight’s website. The product is designed for people with low to very slight vision, but doesn’t work for the completely blind.

I think he looks like us,” Beitz says in the video below. “For the first baby that I actually get to look at, it being my own is very overwhelming. Even to get to look at my husband look at him is such a good feeling.”

See the touching moment in the video below: 

h/t Reddit Uplifting News

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Why I’m Thankful We Didn’t Know About My Daughter’s Disabilities Before She Was Born

DSC_0254-3 If I knew then…

that Ashlea would need a kidney transplant…

that she would have multiple disabilities…

that our lives would never be the same…

would we have done things differently?

I’m sad to say that we may indeed have done things differently. If we’d been told before the girls were born that Ashlea was going to have cerebral palsy, a vision impairment, an intellectual delay and kidney failure, we would have assumed she would have no quality of life and we may have requested she not be resuscitated at birth. If we’d found out that same information in the first few days of her life, we may have decided to withdraw care (I know this is a contentious issue, but when our baby required full life support and was in complete renal failure, it was presented to us as an option.).

But we didn’t know.  

Thank God we didn’t know.

What we didn’t know is how wrong we were to assume that someone with a disability would have no quality of life.

What we didn’t know was that having a child with serious disabilities would be a blessing.

That we would love Ashlea just as she is

that she would help us see what is really important in life…

that we would be OK with not getting the fairytale ending.

What an eye opener it’s been to live with Ashlea and her disabilities. If we’d known, we possibly would have made different choices. But we would have robbed ourselves of the joy and the delight that is Ashlea. We would have robbed ourselves of the chance to have our eyes opened, to see what is really important in life.

Even if someone had told me back then that I would have a child with severe disabilities and that I would be OK with it, it wouldn’t have helped. Because I wouldn’t have believed them.

Some things you have to learn by experience.

Thank God we didn’t know.

This post originally appeared on Thinking of Starting a Blog.

For all of January, The Mighty is asking its readers this question: If you could go back to the day you (or a loved one) got a diagnosis, what would you tell yourself? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please  include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio.

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A Sign in Target Changed the Way I View My Son’s Autism

2014 brought so much change into my little world. It’s amazing how life can knock you off your feet and place you in a whole new galaxy when you least expect it. I should be accustomed to these life-altering events by now.

Almost 11 years ago, I held my 9-month-old daughter in my arms and watched her heartbeat stop on a hospital monitor. It still gets me… remembering that moment. If I allow myself to dwell on the memory more than a few seconds, my eyes will quickly fill with tears and my heart clenches. It was so long ago, yet it feels like wasn’t.

Losing Lexi changed me… for the better. I felt closer to God, closer to my husband, closer to friends and family and very much aware of every blessing and beautiful moment in life. Don’t get me wrong, I hurt badly for a long time and I still have flashbacks that cripple me. It’s true. Nothing is worse than losing a child, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of tough things in life. I’ve never been one to think that my bad is worse than your bad.

When Drake was born, in 2011, I couldn’t properly express the joy I felt knowing that I was finally going to be a mother again. Every ultrasound and echocardiogram told us we were having a healthy baby boy. But I knew Drake was autistic a year before he was diagnosed. I’m the classic Google maniac and knew everything about autism before I expressed my fears to anyone else. I had to reassure myself before I could even utter the words. I was scared — so very scared.

When Lexi was with us, I knew what needed to be done to fix her heart. It was never promised that she would survive, but we knew the steps needed to keep her alive. There were specialists who knew what was wrong and what to do about it. Six to nine medications a day kept her heart functioning. Autism is different. There is no magic pill. Drake can’t have brain surgery to get rid of it. For this I am thankful. I don’t want to lay another child down on an operating table for a major operation ever again.

I’m not yet one of those autism parents who thinks autism is a wonderful part of who my child is or will become. I’ve read so much on this disability, and I’m often in awe when someone says they wouldn’t change their child if given the chance. I wouldn’t change Drake’s sweet spirit or his love for simple things, but I would change him socially. Why? Because people are mean. I don’t want anyone to ever hurt my baby. If Drake continues to be as happy as he is right now and he learns to live independently, I can honestly say I’m OK with him having autism. Yet, here I sit, without my crystal ball.

I don’t know what the future holds, and this is the only part of autism that I abhor.

In the first few months after Drake’s autism diagnosis, I went from a state of constant worry to “mama on a mission” mode. I’ve put my teaching career on hold and made many other sacrifices to ensure Drake receives the therapy he needs. My husband and I have worked as a team every step of the way, and I’m so thankful. Every decision I make is based on what works best for Drake. He has intense ABA therapy four days a week and weekly occupational and speech therapy, which seem to be working. I cannot express how thankful I am for these people who work hard to help my child succeed. They love him and that makes me love them.

Please understand, Drake is not a difficult child. Yes, he’s currently nonverbal, and he has a few things that drive me up the wall (teeth grinding). Otherwise he’s so sweet and accepting of most situations. He isn’t rigid about routine, and although he’s awkward socially, he loves being around people. He does get uncomfortable in certain situations, but he tries so hard to cope most of the time. He’s happiest at home or in predictable environments… but aren’t we all? I’m so in love with Drake’s emerging personality, and I cannot wait to see how much progress he is going to make this year.

Recently I had an epiphany while in Target. I saw this amazing wooden wall hanging that read, “You are my greatest adventure.” I stood there, awestruck.

Drake is my greatest adventure. Autism is an adventure. Life is an adventure. I bought this piece to hang in my home. While this adventure may not be the one I thought I wanted… I’m ready for it.

This year I hope I can embrace this new adventure I believe God has set before me. Despite who I am and how often I fail, He always shows me such an exciting life. Some of these adventures are scary; yet He always shows me the color, beauty and wonder. I believe God opened so many doors for my family this past year. I can only smile when I think of all the things He will do as we continue this adventure with Drake.

I’m ready for the thrilling, exciting, daring, knock-you-off-your-socks moments. I cannot wait to look back on this adventure, sigh and say, “Wow, what a ride.” I’m ready for that moment. No, I do not want time to fly by, but I’m ready to know that everything was worth it.

This post originally appeared on “Walking With Drake.”

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How an American Girl Doll Inspired This 11-Year-Old to Change the Way We View Disability

Melissa Shang knows firsthand what it feels like to grow up without being able to relate to characters in the media. The 11-year-old has muscular dystrophy, a group of diseases associated with weakness and loss of muscle mass. Books, TV shows and movies geared toward kids rarely feature people with disabilities, and those that do tend to include them as sidekicks rather than main characters.

So Melissa, 11, is embarking on a project to raise awareness about what it’s like to live with a disabilityShe and her sister, Eva, are coauthoring a book whose protagonist is a young girl with muscular dystrophy, which they promote in their awesome TED Talk below.

Melissa and Eva’s project began with Melissa’s love for American Girl dolls. One morning, Melissa expressed to Eva that she wished the company would release a “Girl of the Year” doll with a disability so she could relate to the character’s story. The sisters saw this as an ideal opportunity and started a petition to convince the company to do just that. The petition garnered more than 140,000 signatures, but American Girl didn’t respond, according to Mic, and instead chose “Grace the baker” as their 2015 selection.

That’s when Melissa and Eva took matters into their own hands and decided to write the book themselves. They hope to raise enough money to self-publish through an updated petition and a Kickstarter campaign.

“As my sister proved, people with disabilities can be protagonists,” Eva says in the video below, “and can change the world just as much as anyone else can.”

Watch their inspiring TED Talk in the video below.

h/t Mic

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This Punk Band of Musicians With Intellectual Disabilities May Soon Perform In Front of Millions

Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät, better known as PKN, is a Finnish punk band whose members are all middle-aged men with intellectual disabilities.


The band, formed in 2009, gained a lot of popularity after a documentary about them, called “The Punk Syndrome,” was released in Spring 2012.

The documentary followed band members Pertti Kurikka (guitar), Kari Aalto (vocals), Sami Helle (bass) and Toni Välitalo (drums) as they grappled with their newfound notoriety, as well as the challenges living with disability present.

We bring a different kind of perspective into punk music; it’s our perspective,” Helle, the band’s bassist, said in a press release. “We’re different, we’re four mentally handicapped guys so our perspective on the world of punk is a little different.”




Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 10.15.10 AM

Recently, PKN has made it to the Finnish qualification round of the widely-popular singing show, Eurovision Song Contest, the band’s management told The Mighty. If they win the national competition in February, they get to represent Finland at the Eurovision finals in Vienna in May.

The Eurovision Song Contest has been ongoing in Europe since 1956. It boasts an estimated 180 million viewers every year, according to its website.

Stay tuned to see if PKN makes it to the big stage this May.

Check out the official trailer to The Punk Syndrome below:

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