Grad student makes brilliant version of a popular toy for blind people

November 30, 2017 4:07 pm Last Updated: November 30, 2017 4:08 pm

Kristen Sharpless is a grad student and contributor to the popular internet forum, Reddit. While she spends a lot of time on the forum, one post from earlier this week quickly became her most popular one yet.

Sharpless posted a picture of a special creation of hers on r/pics, a picture-sharing subreddit. Having been assigned by her Intro to Vision Rehab Therapy class at The University of Massachusetts to create a game that blind people can enjoy, Sharpless came up with the idea of adapting a Rubik’s Cube.

Using materials she purchased from a local store, she glued things such as buttons and velcro onto the corresponding colors, creating unique textures that blind people could use to solve the puzzle

The entire process was said to have taken her only 10 minutes.

(Kristen Sharpless/Reddit)

“I wanted to share something that was cheap and easy to make so people who work with the blind/ have blind friends or family could replicate it if they wanted,” Sharpless explained to Mashable.

Sharing the post on Reddit, Sharpless’ picture quickly blew up, launching itself to the front page of the site. Currently, it has received over 81,000 upvotes. While surprised with the response, Sharpless was happy that so many people had seen her creation.

“I really liked about how much traction it got and the fact that I could spread awareness that adapting anything is possible if you think hard enough, and that even the most uncreative person (myself!) can think of something that somebody else could find really helpful,” Sharpless said.

The response to Sharpless’ post was overwhelmingly positive, with many commenting on the brilliance of her creation. There were even a number of comments sharing personal stories and expressing their thanks for creating a product that everyone can enjoy.

(Tim Whitby/Getty Images)

While a few people noted that a version of the famed puzzle for the blind has been created before, Sharpless said that the first thing on her mind was making something fun for a friend.

“When I saw the Rubik’s Cube, I was thrilled when I knew immediately what to do with it,” she said. “I had my best friend in mind (she’s not blind, she just loves playing with these things), so I thought I would make it tactile and blindfold her to have her try it out!”

Having been working with people who are deaf and blind, Sharpless commented that she is incredibly happy that so many people liked her creation. She’s looking forward to seeing what other ideas she may come up with in the future. 

“I have spent my entire educational and professional career immersed in the DeafBlind community,” Sharpless said. “I would love for the opportunity to give back to a community that has given me so much.”