Two-year-old Rebecca Lacourse has Usher syndrome, a condition that causes hearing and vision loss. Although her diagnosis was devastating for her parents, Jacob and Beth Lacourse, they are determined to help their daughter live as full of a life as possible.
One problem Jacob noticed is that there are not a lot of toys that are accessible for children with visual impairments. “There weren’t a lot of toys on the market for children with visual impairments or blind children,” he told People. “When a child is born with normal sight, they’re immersed in language and they have little toys with letters and words, so what we decided to do was to make Rebecca her own toy.”
Not wanting his daughter to miss out on the experience of learning the basics of language early on, Jacob took it upon himself to create a toy that would teach Rebecca braille, a tactile writing system used by those with visual impairments.
Called the BecDot, it’s an interactive toy that allows parents to program in words with an app. Then braille displays spell out those words. It also has a place to put a toy that corresponds with a word, so that kids can associate a word and an object. Check it out in action in the video below:
For now, the BecDot is just a prototype, but the Lacourses are optimistic about their chances to get the product mass-produced. When it’s sold, Jacob hopes it will retail for about $100.
The BecDot was recently shown at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where it won the Not Impossible Limitless Award. And people are taking notice. Disability advocate Belo Cipriani shared the toy on his Instagram feed:
Open-source electronics platform Arduino also shared the device on Instagram:
“The world isn’t going to adapt to Becca,” he told Today. “I wanted to adapt the world for her, but realized I could actually help a lot of other people as well.”
What an awesome dad! We hope that Rebecca and other children with visual impairments get the chance to learn from the BecDot.