Rutherford students working on helping those with hearing and visual impairments

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - You've heard of speech to text, but what about speech to Braille? That's what Rutherford I.B. students Alex Johnson and Jonathan Walker are working on.

The two brought home first place in the Intelligence Systems and Machines category. (Alex Johnson and Jonathan Walker)

The two say while refreshable Braille displays are not new, some can cost upwards of $3,000.

Johnson and Walker say they want theirs to be more accessible and affordable.

Johnson said, "So we're working on making it much more portable, something that can be used every day walking down the street. Someone can talk to you and you can read what they're saying through Braille and then respond in Braille."

The two took their talents and invention to the West Panhandle Regional Science Fair and brought home first place in the Intelligence Systems and Machines category, but the work doesn't stop there as they prepare for the state-level competition in March.

"Our end goal is to make this more compact, make it even better for continuous interaction and have it to where you can go plug it into your computer and read something off the internet. Then, you can go take it with you and walk down the street, someone can talk to you and you can read what they're saying, and have a fluent conversation with them," said Johnson.

Not only do they say they have a passion for creating and engineering, but the two also have a passion for giving back and helping where they can.

Walker said, "Disabilities don't really discriminate in who they affect. So, I've really been really attracted towards helping people somehow. Helping people, especially those who are less fortunate, it's a really big thing to me. It's something I really like pursuing."

At the state competition, Johnson and Walker will compete for one of four international spots.

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