Just as the process of 3D printing is generally achieved by printing one layer on top of another, it often seems to operate on parallel levels also, offering infinite layers of innovation and inspiration in so many ways. Just when you think you’ve heard it all, and just went you think the technology couldn’t possibly offer anything more heartwarming or inspiring, comes along a story like that of Layla, who sure lucked out in the parents department.
Layla, visually impaired, was adopted by Jason and Dori Walker, in a pairing that certainly couldn’t be more perfect. These parents can give us all some great ideas, seeing how motivated they were to reach out to the progressive new world of 3D printing to enrich the world of Layla, who in turn has enjoyed doing that for others.
Layla is now 14 and in 8th grade. The Walkers have been working with their Robo 3D printer for over a year now helping her to learn. Anyone with school-age kids knows what it’s like to worry over their kids as they experience challenge and frustration with homework, and it’s often, yes, the dreaded math–where sometimes it’s not clear who is in more pain —the kids or the parents; not in the case of Jason Walker though, who knew that the 3D printer was just the place to go to help Layla understand the concept of fractions.
“Every time she came home from school, we had a huge problem with fractions,” said Jason. “I started printing pieces of ‘pie’ and saying ‘this is a third, and this is a sixth’ – because in her mind she thought a sixth was bigger than a third.”
Walker was able to use his Robo 3D to give Layla a true physical interpretation of math. With something that she could feel and explore, learning became easy as well, pie.
“The 3D printer helped me learned because I can feel it. And when I can feel stuff, it can kind of pop right into my brain,” says Layla, trying to express something difficult to put into words because it’s just so instinctual and natural. “My fingers are like my eyes. It’s pretty cool.”
“Layla gets empowered by Robo 3D, having the ability to show people,” says Jason. “She likes to be the teacher…it makes her feel independent, so she can feel helpful, and so she can see all the things that transfer from me to her to everyone else.”
Layla and her family are still busy 3D printing up a storm. Lately she’s 3D printed flowers and even measuring cups for the household.
“We’ve been able to create things for her and watch all those pieces fall into place,” said Dori. “To see her understand and to see her use that knowledge—it’ so exciting.”
We’ve reported on numerous ways that 3D printing has been used to help the visually impaired in terms of so many different things, from helping with 3D printed maps and directions in cultural arenas to making yearbooks more accessible with 3D prints, to even helping individuals understand about space.
Are there other ways you can think of that 3D printing can help the visually impaired? Share with us in the Robo 3D Printer Used to Teach Visually Impaired forum over at 3DPB.com.