Bristol Braille Technology has developed the Canute Gaming Dock, a Braille-based gaming system that enables blind, visually impaired and sighted people to play video games alone or together – and can even be used to create your own games!

This is the birth of a new medium: the tactile videogame. It is all about accessible gaming, accessible Computer Science and the brilliance and creative potential Braille offers for blind people.

The Canute’s unique 360 Braille cell display means whole genres that have previously been largely visual can now be made available to blind people as tactile experiences, sometimes with minimal or no adjustment. The team has tested Snake, Hangman, word searches and maze exploration so far with positive results and hope that with the open-source technology, both blind and sighted programmers will create a range of accessible games and have fun adapting games already on the market.

Intrigued to see how it works? Take a look at the video below.

Experiencing gaming through Bristol Braille

To help bring this machine to as many people as possible, Bristol Braille Technology wants to launch the first Braille Arcade. This tour of the UK will bring the Canute Gaming Dock to different towns with them loaded up with interactive maps of those towns and work with Braille-using blind players to build the stories and worlds that interest them as well as introduce them to the potential of Braille gaming and multiline Braille. Bristol Braille Technology has already booked dates for a UK mini-tour, showing the machine in Bristol and London as well as plans for Dublin. 

The first stop is naturally Bristol, which will take place on 4 November. The invite is open to Braille users, media and interested parties – Charlie Harding from Bristol Braille says, “If people want to come and have a nose they are welcome, they just need to email me at charlie.harding@bristolbraille.org for numbers.”

Bristol Braille Technology is now finalising its crowdfunder to help them fund the manufacturing of the Canute Gaming Dock and the launch of the Braille Arcade. They are hoping to get in touch with programmers, game studios and tech businesses that are as passionate about accessibility and inclusion as they are. You can support them here!

Dave Williams, Customer Experience Manager at the RNIB tells us, “That you have tactile, audio and video in one device means the sky’s the limit. The tactile component could help with orientation, including in games with maps and would be fascinating for a blind student looking to develop their spacial orientation skills.”

Since 2012 Bristol Braille Technology has developed, manufactured and distributed the first affordable multiline, refreshable Braille machine, the Canute 360. The award winning Canute allows Braille readers to read books downloaded to an SD card rather than dealing with bulky Braille books as well as read music, maths and simple graphs. They have sold hundreds of machines to users all over the world including Australia, America and Japan. 

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Shona Wright

Shona covers all things editorial at TechSPARK. She publishes news articles, interviews and features about our fantastic tech and digital ecosystem, working with startups and scaleups to spread the word about the cool things they're up to. She also oversees TechSPARK's social media, sharing the latest updates on everything from investment news to green tech meetups and inspirational stories.