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Blind reading aid wins top prize

Hand-held device allowing blind people to read has won a prize for the best invention of the year at inventors' forum

31 May 2010

A HAND-HELD device allowing blind people to read has won a prize for the best invention of the year at an annual inventors’ forum.

The Concours Lépine, a contest named after a Paris police chief who founded it in 1901, is run as part of the Foire de Paris each spring.

Raoul Parienti, an ex-teacher from Nice, won with Top-Braille. He set up a small business Vision SAS to develop it three years ago.

A colleague, Yves Castel, said: “A camera scans characters and digitises them. The device then reproduces the letters in Braille.” Like existing readers for the blind, the device is also able to read aloud.
Mr Castel said previous technology did not create Braille and was cumbersome. “You can take this anywhere and read a magazine or a menu.”

Mr Parienti said: “Inventing has always been my passion and I had a blind sister so I knew there were very few documents in Braille.”

“We are delighted to have won the prize – it will be a real boost for us which will help us develop our business and reduce prices.”

A contest spokesman said: “It will change the life of many people with vision problems.”

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