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The Wholesome Project

The Wholesome Project is an initiative for empowering the visually impaired through the proposed redesign of the basic set of tools in a geometry box. These tools are designed with tactile and auditory feedback to facilitate inclusivity by enabling them to draw with more precision.

Geometry as a concept is very fundamental to the understanding of the world around us. It forms the basis for the understanding of concepts of shape, volume, area which further feed into various branches of physical sciences, astronomy, architecture and computational graphics. Geometry being a visual 2d representation of the 3D world for a visually impaired student, to translate the experience of 3D spaces to 2D without appropriate tools can be very challenging. The existing tools do not enable them to independently undertake the same challenges posed by this field of mathematics as the normal sighted children.

The interactions are designed keeping in mind the primary senses of the visually impaired : Touch and Sound. To able to able to feel, understand and analyze what they have drawn is very critical in learning Geometry.The Wholesome Project provides immediate feedback to its users,which can be perceived and understood after drawing the line and shapes.

A combination of embossed braille, guiding grooves and supporting auditory elements in the tools enable them to have a better understanding of the smaller units that are set and drawn.The tools could fill in the gap in their understanding and translation of the world from three dimensional structures to the twodimensional geometric diagrams

These tools and their extensions could thus serve to aid them in measurement, diagrammatic representations, creation and practise of the fundamental knowledge of geometry, exposing many more avenues in the process.
“I never knew I could draw this.. never done it before. My students will like this, they are very smart.”
- Raheem Pathan, Maths Teacher (Visually Impaired), Blind People Assosiation Ahmedaba

Scale Interactions

Step 1 - Move your finger and identify the desired number on cm scale
Step 2 - Move down the adjacent mm scale to count desired mm value
Step 3 - Place the stylus in the corresponding groove and move till edge of the scale

Step 4 - Draw the line from the point till the stopper

Step 5 - Turn the paper to feel the embossed line

Compass Interactions

Step 1 - Loosen the knob to adjust the arms of the compass

Step 2 - Count the dots and move the fingers on outer cm scale until you reach desired value
Step 3 - Move inward adjacently to reach 0.5 cm scale

Step 4 - Adjust the arm till that point by checking the inner side of that arm
Step 5 - Tighten the knob to set the radius

Step 6 - Fix the compass and draw circle using the spur wheel

Step 7 - Turn the paper to check the embossed circle drawn with required radius

Process Work

This project was done as part of an academic course on Interfaces and Interactions. The course was designed in way to let students choose a topic of their interest to start with. I chose sound as my interest and looked at it through the lens of interface and interaction design. 

Precedent Study


Redesign the basic tools in a Geometry Box with the audio feedback for the visually impaired to use it with ease and to participate in the collaborative activities with the people around.

Why Audio Feedback for blind ??
Sound with its role complementary to vision, is an integral part in everyday encounters with the world. Sound is rich with information about the environment around.It helps understanding the context by giving information about the source, distance, material and space. Since visually impaired people use sound to understand the world better, it becomes the appropriate interface for communication

Why Geometric Tools for Blind?
“ Generally students are encouraged or interested to excel in subjects like English, Science. But when it comes to Maths, preference is given only to statistics and algebra as it is difficult to teach the concepts of geometry. We don’t have the right tools and medium. They find it very difficult to understand. These kind of tools are available in other countries. They are not available here or it is too costly for them to buy”
- Maths teacher, Blind People’s Association, Ahmedabad

Exisitng Geometry Tools

Design Directions
The initial ideas of the project were around designing  sound based digital interfaces for the Visually Impaired. Redesigning scale that would fit into the mental model of the visually impaired was challenging from sighted person’s perspective. The experience of this process gave all the more reason to redesign such a tool.


Scale, already in its simplest form, I tried to integrate basic sensors with it, in order provide the ability of guiding by giving sound feedback when drawing a line. Series of experiments were conducted to explore the possibilities of various sensors with respect to form factor of the scale and the robustness. It was important to choose a right material, so as to guide them to a degree of millimeter. The thinnest material with movement detection was desired for the prototype.


Experiment 1 - Velostat Feedback based on varying resistance with the movement of the pencil. Velostat is a packaging material which is electrically conductive. Due to its properties of changing its resistance with either flexing or pressure, it can be used as sensor with microcontroller

Experiment 2 - Aluminium foil with Graphite and Speaker
Feedback based on the varying conductance of Aluminium with the movement of the graphite
    1. Aluminium Foil - Easy Availability with high conductivity
    2. Graphite - Commonly used pencil lead

Experiment 3 - Copper tape with Graphite and Speaker
Feedback based on the varying conductance of Aluminium with the movement of the graphite
    1. Copper Tape - Higher conductance than aluminium
    2. Graphite - Commonly used pencil lead

These sensors were integrated with the arduino(microcontroller) powered speaker. Different feedback sounds for different units were used with an option to turn ON/OFF feedback for certain units.

Key Interactions

Draw a line with feedback for all units

Drawing a line with feedback only at the end (Range)

Drawing a line with feedback only at the end (Range)


The goal of redesigning the compass was to enable the understanding of ‘radius’ and the ability to draw with this understanding. This learning of concept is better with the physical movement of the arms of the compass with respect to guiding measurement tool like scale, to set the radius of the compass. This embodied experience will help them learn the concept by doing, so the possibility of automated radius setting was rejected. Sensors were chosen to calculate the distance between arms, which be given as the voice feedback for radius setting.


Experiment 1 - Time of Flight Sensor
ToF sensor relies reflected light intensity or reflected angles to determine range. It uses a precise clock to measure the time it takes light to bounce back from a surface. It promises to measure an absolute range of up to 10cm. This sensor was accurate to centimeter scale.

Experiment 2- Flex sensor
The sensor when flexed, the resistance increases across the sensor. The sensor was positioned in between the arms of compass, to convert the varying angle to electrical signal to calculate the set radius of the compass. This sensor was not suitable to achieve desired results.

These sensors were integrated with the arduino(microcontroller) powered speaker. Feedback was given through a voice to guide the interaction with the artefact.


The Prototypes can become unaffordable for the visually impaired in Indian context due to the integrated electronics and power source. In order to make the design frugal, inclusive and robust, the phase 2 of the project moved toward the redesigning tools which are analog in nature.

Phase II

A series of explorations were made to around tactile grooves and braille numbering. The prototypes evolved with respect to usage of laser machine with right intensity and speed, to get the grooves deep enough for the stylus to move till the edge of the scale. Different kind of materials for used to get the desired distinct, accurately distanced grooves for millimeter scale.

Fittle - 3D puzzle for Visually Impaired Kids

Tiffy Template - template to identify different currency notes

Prototyping - Process

Iterative Prototyping

Testing the Prototypes

Project Guide
Dr Jignesh Khakhar

Thanks to the amazingly ethusiastic students - Keyur, Vijay, Jatin, Hiral and very supporting teachers and staff - Tarak sir, Raheem Pathan Sir, Rajendra Sir, Jagdish Sir, Nandhini Ma’am and Yamini ma'am of the Blind People’s Association, Ahmedabad

Copyright © 2017 Kavya D