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Perkins and Product Development Technologies Earn IDEA Award for Brailler Design

The Next Generation Perkins/APH® Brailler Wins Acclaim from BusinessWeek

Perkins Products/Perkins School for the Blind and Product Development Technologies, Inc. (PDT) were honored in the 2009 International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA®) sponsored by BusinessWeek, the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA), Target, and Autodesk for the Next Generation™ Perkins/APH Brailler®, developed in collaboration with the American Printing House for the Blind (APH). The IDEA competition is a celebration of the year’s most innovative and exciting product and product concept designs and one of the world’s most prestigious and recognizable design competitions. The brailler received a Silver Award, one of only 47 such designations out of 1,631 entries. BusinessWeek’s IDEA report hit the newsstands July 29, 2009.

The IDEA program is the premier international competition honoring design excellence in products, ecodesign, interaction design, packaging, strategy, research, and concepts. The 2009 jury includes 20 world-renowned designers and design thinkers who spent weeks previewing entries online and two-and-a-half days of intense, face-to-face evaluation and debate on IDEA. The IDEA 2009 judging was based on a product’s innovation, benefit to the user, benefit to society and natural ecology, benefit to the client, visual appeal and appropriate aesthetics, usability testing, and internal factors and methods.

The Next Generation Perkins/APH Brailler excellence lies in its potential to be a life-changing product, one determining the difference between a life of literacy or illiteracy; a life with or without employment, a life full of productive independence or codependence. In the United States, 70% of citizens who are blind are unemployed or underemployed. However, people who use braille are more than twice as likely to find employment. This is a very real scenario for people who are blind in the US and around the world.

"One of the chief goals of re-designing the classic Perkins Brailler," says Perkins Products General Manager David Morgan, "was to make this indispensable communication tool easier to carry and more convenient to use. The response we have had so far to the Next Generation Perkins/APH Brailler is resoundingly positive. Lighter-weight materials plus the more comfortable handle design means that more braille users than ever can take the world’s most ubiquitous braille writing tool wherever they want to use it. In other words, this design brings hard-copy braille into more places, more easily, for more people than ever thought possible."

The award winning brailler came to fruition 57 years after the original Perkins Brailler was introduced by Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts, where both Helen Keller and Laura Bridgman studied.  The partnership between Perkins Products, APH, and PDT made the development of this uniquely challenging project possible.

"Given the importance of this product to so many people, we were honored to participate in its development and are thrilled it’s receiving this highly coveted recognition," said Mark Schwartz, PDT President.

IDSA has been honoring design excellence via the IDEA Awards since 1980.


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