World’s first multiline Braille e-reader gives more people access to Braille across the world

Social impact investment company Resonance, has made its first investment into a technology manufacturer, Bristol Braille Technology CIC (BBT), from its Bristol Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR) Fund. The investment of £200,000 will support its launch of the world’s first multiline digital Braille e-reader, the Canute 360, which has been compared to a “Kindle™ for blind people”.

BBT are supporting the blind community through technology with a radical new multiline digital Braille e-reader. Existing Braille displays can only show one line of text of between 12 and 80 characters at a time. The Canute 360 can store thousands of Braille e-book files in its built-in memory and show them across 360 cells. BBT’s purpose is to help reverse the decline in Braille literacy, particularly by the invention, production and distribution of new technology. The investment provides working capital for BBT to support early manufacturing and distribution of the Canute 360.

Affordable Braille is essential for many blind people’s literacy, education and employment, yet Braille use has been declining for decades due to stagnant technology. The revolutionary and radically affordable Braille e-reader called Canute, has been designed with and by the blind community. Canute will dramatically widen access to Braille around the world. For the first time blind people will have the opportunity to access digital text without being charged literally hundreds of pounds per character.

Whilst this is a global project, there is a strong local connection. BBT is a Bristolian company, relying on local volunteers, testers and engineers, with a social mission of global scale. It will be the first time digital Braille has been manufactured in the UK, and will focus this new industry in Bristol.

The flexibility of the technology and the team, ensures that the Canute will evolve to fill new niches and become the biggest innovation in Braille, technological or otherwise, for the next decade.

This is now the eighth investment from the Resonance Bristol SITR Fund, a pioneering social impact investment fund, which aims to help dismantle poverty in the region through investing in high impact social enterprises. The Fund continues to raise investment from private individuals who want to back social enterprises and get the benefits of Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR), a recently introduced scheme similar to the popular Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS).

This latest investment from the Fund followed an earlier £200,000 investment from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation to make a total investment of £400,000 into BBT.

Katalin Juhasz, Investment Manager at Resonance said of the investment “We are very excited to be supporting BBT, enabling them to have a profound and significant positive impact to people who are blind or visually impaired in Bristol and beyond. It will increase blind people’s opportunities for education, employment and lead to greater independence.”

Ed Rogers, Managing Director at BBT, commented: “Everyone in the Bristol Braille team are hugely grateful to Resonance for backing Canute. This is a device designed with, by and for Braille readers the world over.

“We look forward to seeing it being used to expand the range of opportunities available to Braille readers, and blind people generally, as a direct result of Resonance’s investment.”