An innovative and practical new service from Beacon Centre for the Blind “ Fab Lab “ a state of the art digital and design workshop specifically tailored to the visually-impaired.
Sight Loss Charity Opens Fab Lab
Beacon Centre for the Blind, a major sight loss charity based in the West Midlands, recently opened the doors of their brand-new facility – a digital manufacturing workshop. The charity is keen to maintain a manufacturing legacy in the region, and thanks to generous support from a local workers’ union this has been made a reality.
Local blind and visually-impaired people, along with individuals with other disabilities, now have the opportunity to develop skills in laser cutting, 3D and sublimation printing in order to increase their confidence, independence and employability.
The Fab Lab boasts a range of state-of-the-art technology including a laser for cutting and engraving materials from wood and acrylic to glass and ceramics, heat presses with which we can transfer images onto fabric, slate, ceramic and acrylic and 3D printers that can build bespoke products from 3D designs.
The Fab Lab is designed to meet the requirements of visually-impaired trainees, with tactile flooring and high-contrast work surfaces employed alongside commercial magnification and screen-reading software, high-contrast keyboards and large monitors – all of which ensure the workplace is accessible as possible for those with limited or no sight.
Visually-impaired trainees are supported by a team of dedicated volunteers who give freely of their time to ensure that the lab can run five days a week and meet the increasing demand for its services. Goods produced and sold to date include a wide range of high quality personalised gifts, wooden and ceramic drinks coasters, Christmas ornaments, personalised t-shirts and coffee mugs, engraved slate plates for house numbers and corporate-branded t-shirts and keyrings. The Fab Lab has also produced plaques for all eighteen holes at a local golf course and high-vis vests for Beacon’s own fire marshals.
Products can be sold via Beacon’s network of charity shops and also, in the near future, via its website which will be live soon.