The Problem - an unBrailled Panel
Most washing machine manufacturers will supply and fit a Brailled replacement front panel on request. However, this one sent a standard spare panel, which they would arrange to be fitted, once Brailled. How to get it Brailled? Neatly and unobtrusively? Stick-on labels were considered, but they don’t always stay stuck on something that vibrates a lot whenever used and is in what may be a hot and humid environment. They are difficult to place without obscuring existing marking, used by the sighted members of the family. They can look unsightly. Companies that supply panels pre-Brailled tend to supply ones with inset metal or plastic “bumps”. That was probably going to be the best solution. But where to get suitable pins? How to space them neatly and evenly?
The Pins: Raphael Crafts, 47 St Benedicts St, Norwich NR2 4PG had the answer
The Drilling Template: A small bit of Veroboard:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veroboard . The 0.1″ grid is absolutely perfect for producing Braille character patterns
Any 0.1″ prototyping board would do.
The Drill: I’d planned to make the holes slightly undersize and use an interference fit to hold the pins in place. Alas, the pins have blunt ends and are made of fairly soft malleable material. So I used a 0.8mm standard solid carbide PCB drill at low drill speed. Otherwise the plastic will melt and solidify on the drill bit – best avoided.
Gluing: bending the pins at right angles and cutting them off, to leave a few millimetres worked well. A dab of hot melt glue and on to the next. Standard side-cutters does the job – these aren’t hardened steel pins.
Here’s what the finished item looked like:
The washing machine manufacturer sent someone to fit the panel the very next week. The totally blind client actually thought that the pin head size and spacing were better than the previous (manufactured) panels (or she was being kind) and the panel is now very easy to read. Even I can read the characters and recognise them.
This is what it looks like: