4 Ways We Gave Back In 2017

Dear 3Doodler Community,

First of all, I’d like to say a huge thank you to you for another fantastic year. As 2017 comes to an end, I’d like to take this opportunity to share some special community highlights with you.

3Doodler strives to be a company that inspires and enables you to make. Our products and activities reflect our ongoing commitment to our community of innovative Doodlers, talented artists, and last but not least, inspirational teachers and students. I hope these examples will place the spotlight on some very meaningful charities and talented individuals, and bring awareness to the difference they are making every day.

– Daniel Cowen, President & COO of 3Doodler

1. Adapting Our Product For All Users

Ever since we launched our first pen in 2013, we’ve received interest from members of the blind and low vision community, including teachers and students, all envisioning ways to use 3Doodler pens to create instant tactile graphics they can touch and feel. 2017 saw a breakthrough in this area, which we hope paves the way for blind and low vision users to create in entirely new ways.

Partnering with RNIB, UK’s leading charity supporting blind and partially sighted people, we adapted the 3Doodler Start with new features to make it easier for people with sight loss to use. These features include tactile markings on the pen itself, and audio instructions on our website, all aimed at helping users get started and orient the pen for 3D drawing.

See what BBC News reported

2. Encouraging Hands-on Learning in Classrooms

From Nov ‘16 to Feb ‘17, we partnered with DonorsChoose.org to help teachers make creative tech a reality for their classrooms. The US based non-profit organization enables donations directly to public school classroom projects. As part of our commitment to this,3Doodler matched each donation to classroom projects requesting a 3Doodler EDU Bundle. In 2016, 283 projects were fully funded, raising a total of $200K.

One year later, in Nov 2017, we launched a second campaign. At the time of writing this article, we’ve raised $65,263 and counting. We also allocated extra funds for special education teachers, and the response has been phenomenal. The message is clear: making our products easy to access for all types of learners will be one of our main focuses as we enter 2018. Watch this space!

3. Supporting Creators in all Shapes & Sizes

In 2017, there has been no shortage of creative talent. We’ve discovered, and been approached by, professional sculptors, fashion designers, art teachers, jewellery designers, as well as countless creators from different backgrounds, who all use the 3Doodler in ways we never imagined.

Sometimes creators need a little boost to shoot for their particular moon. We’ve offered feedback and advice to those who have asked, sponsored and encouraged artists to hold their first ever exhibition, and supported creators with 115 pens and 11,560 strands of plastic… In return, we’ve seen creations that made our jaws drop and our eyes ogle. ROI = priceless. These moments and collaborations give us the inspiration we need to do our best every day.

Some Artists We Worked With

4. Making Magic with Toys & Play

Play forms a huge and integral part of a child’s growth. We are a strong believer of Toy Industry Foundation’s mission to provide joy and comfort to children in need through the experience of toys and play. The Foundation makes play possible for families struggling in poverty, military families, kids undergoing cancer treatments, children with special needs, and many more.

We donated to the charity to help bring even more smiles and laughter to the lives of some very special kids.

With these efforts (and many more to come), 3Doodler is helping build a more innovative and caring world; supporting kids and adults who dare to imagine and create.

A Whole New Way for the Blind to Create

“I always felt that if I could see, then I would enjoy painting.”

Margaret Wilson-Hinds, age 67, is participating in a special workshop at the Royal National Institute for Blind People (RNIB) main office in Peterborough, England. Along with several other blind and partially-sighted participants, Margaret has just tried the 3Doodler Start for the first time.

Beginning with the launch of the first 3Doodler in 2013, members of our community reached out to us to explore opportunities for using the 3Doodler to overcome a variety of learning obstacles. We spoke with community centres, teachers of non-traditional learners, physical rehabilitation specialists, and teachers of the blind—all of whom thought the 3Doodler could be used to make a real difference in individual lives. As our company has grown, so has our ability to focus on these needs, with our first challenge being to adapt the 3Doodler Start for the blind and partially sighted.

“The original thinking with the first version of the 3Doodler was that it could be used by teachers of the blind and partially sighted to make tactile learning aids,” explains 3Doodler President, Daniel Cowen. “This could include raised line graphing, maps and directions, shapes or objects a student could feel, quick braille markings, feeling handwriting, and more.”

"The real goal was to create a pen that blind and partially-sighted users could use themselves." Share

Daniel and 3Doodler CEO Maxwell Bogue took note as feedback came in from those who saw how a 3D printing pen could fill a gap amongst learning aids, and provide support for the blind.

“From our earliest discussions with interested community members, we also learned that existing aides, like swell paper, were expensive and could be inadequate for these needs,” says Daniel. “The 3Doodler offered a robust way to draw touchable learning aids.”

However, there was one significant shortfall—up until that point most of the discussions had been with teachers for the blind and had been focused on educators using the pen to make tactile learning aids for their students. The real goal was to create a pen that blind and partially-sighted users could use themselves—placing the joy and accomplishment of creativity and learning directly into their hands.

Three years later, the launch of the 3Doodler Start provided the pathway to make this possible. With no hot parts and a plastic cool enough to touch, we finally had a 3D printing pen that was safe for all users.

Shortly after launching the 3Doodler Start, our team began the process of understanding what changes would be needed to create a meaningful experience for blind and partially-sighted users.

“RNIB wanted to test the product because the whole idea of 3D printing is a revolution,” explains RNIB Head of Strategy Steve Tyler. “But this take on it is particularly interesting because it’s portable, it’s hand-held, and it’s a whole new way of being able to allow children, young people, and anybody who is vision impaired to be creative.”

With a proactive approach to new tech and how it could be applied to helping the visually impaired, RNIB was a natural fit for a collaboration with 3Doodler, and would ensure rigorous testing and feedback so that the product could be adapted and enhanced in a meaningful way.

Conversations with RNIB provided the 3Doodler team with useful preliminary advice—such as incorporating tactile markings on the pen instead of braille, and the importance of audio instructions for blind users.

Now, after a year of feedback and testing—which included individuals, as well as two schools for the blind and partially sighted—the 3Doodler Start has been given the official RNIB product endorsement, a quality assurance mark for products identified as “easy-to-use” for those who are blind or have sight loss.

And opening new avenues for the blind to express creatively isn’t just about innovation, it has a direct personal impact on people’s lives.

“Being able to draw, and being able to feel what you’ve drawn, or being able to create a product using this kind of manual 3D printing method is really new and innovative,” says Steve. “I’ve got a 5 year old son, and I spent an hour with him yesterday. A sighted son, and me as a blind father, and we were able to enjoy the 3Doodler together.”

"It’s a whole new way of being able to allow children, young people, and anybody who is vision impaired to be creative." Share

Back at the RNIB office in Peterborough, Roger Wilson-Hinds admits he was reluctant to participate in the 3Doodler workshop. “I came thinking I couldn’t cope with this kind of stuff, I had to persuade myself to come,” he says. But after experimenting with patterns on cups and forms, and creating a ring for himself, he’s glad he stepped out of his comfort zone. “I’ve come away with the idea that [the 3Doodler] could be really good, this could be good for lots of people.”

The official RNIB case study put the 3Doodler Start into the hands of both young students and adults, with participants aged between 8 and 78 and with varying degrees of sight loss and vision.

Through participant feedback as well as recommendations from RNIB, the 3Doodler Start now has tactile buttons, new audio instructions to help users get started, and will soon have full instructions in Braille.

“For me, I always enjoyed art but I could never fully see what I was doing,” says Mark Evans, at the RNIB workshop.

“And I’d have the idea in my head, and I’d draw it on the page, and it’d look awful! Because I’m not a great artist,” he laughs.

But with the 3Doodler, Mark didn’t feel the same sense of frustration he’d had in the past with traditional creative tools. “This would enable me to do things and be creative and produce a better quality of work and enjoy art a lot more,” he says.

Everyone at 3Doodler is immensely proud of the work done with RNIB, as well as the impact these product changes will have on the creative lives of our users. We want to thank everyone who has been involved in this project to date, and underscore our commitment to creating a world where every person, regardless of ability, can have access to the tools they need to create and learn.

To learn more about 3Doodler EDU products, click here:

LEARN MORE

Visit the official RNIB website to learn more about their work in supporting the blind and partially sighted.

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