Tactile communication tools for the deafblind

Nimesha Ranasinghe1, Pravar Jain1, Shienny Karwita1, David Tolley1, Barry Chew1, Ankit Bansal1Ellen Yi-Luen Do1,2
1Keio-NUS CUTE Center, Interactive & Digital Media Institute, National University of Singapore
2School of Industrial Design & School of Interactive Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology


For deafblind individuals, the absence of visual and auditory communication channels can prevent meaningful interactions with the people and world around them, leading many to suffer with both mental and social issues. To utilise the available sensory channels (e.g. taste, haptic, and olfactory) of deafblind individuals, tactile stimuli are one type of feedback that can be employed to enable communication with the outside world. We have developed a wearable assistive device that converts speech and text into tactile stimuli, and vice versa, to enable efficient communication between deafblind and non-impaired individuals. In addition to employing tactile stimuli, we believe that olfactory and taste stimuli may also be incorporated into future versions of the system in order to deliver non-time sensitive information, such as local navigational data.

Keywords: Haptic; tactile; sensory substitution; deafblind; finger braille.


  • Ranasinghe, N., Jain, P., Karwita, S., Tolley, D., Chew, B., Bansal, A., & Do, E. Y. L. 2017. Enriching the Lives of Deafblind Individuals Through Sensory Substitution (Interfaces to Interact, Communicate, and Entertain). In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’17) – Workshop on Amplification and Augmentation of Human Perception (Denver, Colorado, May 7, 2017). [email protected] ’17. ACM, New York, NY. 


  • Ranasinghe, N., Jain, P., Karwita, S., Tolley, D., Chew, B., Bansal, A., & Do, E. Y. L. 2017. Interface For Information Exchange And Communication Between And Among The Sensory Disabled And Non-Disabled Individuals. SG Non-Provisional Application No. 10201703584W.



This research is supported by the National Research Foundation, Prime Minister’s Office, Singapore under its International Research Centres in Singapore Funding Initiative.