The Story and Inspiration Behind the Invention
Our mission is to empower blind people to develop to their full potential, be independent and productive by means of affordable assistive technologies.
We envision an inclusive society where everyone is empowered to sustain on their own contributing to economic growth and sustainable development.
Inherited Passion for Better Lives of the Blind
Back in late 1950's, an above average orphaned boy from Khon Kaen, Prayat Punong-ong, 8, lost his sight forever from a car accident. It was common in that time that most blind people in Thailand became beggars or left undeveloped. Schools for the blind were only in Bangkok where not all blind people could afford to go. Life without sight was hard, but becoming burden to the family would be more unbearable for him. He never stopped finding ways to learn and develop himself to help his family and hopefully other blind people.
Prayat was later nurtured by Bonnie Carlsen, a Canadian American missionary who saw him through special and formal education from a vocational school for the blind until he graduated from a college. He returned to Khon Kaen with strong passion to start the first rural school for the blind in Thailand, a ridiculous vision statement from a young blind man at that time. He met his wife, Thidarat at a youth Christian conference and established a residential school for the blind together in late 1978 in a rented half of a house in Khon Kaen city. The first 13 blind students were taught life skills by Thidarat and braille literacy by Prayat. They got married in 1979 and bore the first son, Songpakorn in 1980. Initial fundings were from Christian churches and individuals from Bangkok, Khon Kaen, Singapore, USA and Canada.
As stated by Mrs. Carlsen's article in October 1979 issue of the Alliance Witness Magazine, "God Had a Purpose", we could not imagine how painful it was for a young boy losing his sight from a car accident, but the story after that was a miracle.
The school was later relocated to the current headquarters of CFBT in Khon Kaen expanding to more than 10 locations countrywide, having served several 10,000's blind people in the past 4 decades. CFBT is the largest charity organization for the blind in Thailand.
An Inventor from the Tribe of Blind People
I am Songpakorn Pungong-ong, the inventor of ReadRing. I have seen for my whole life my hardworking parents who are brave, passionate, and good at what they do for the blind and the organization. I found myself attracted to science since early ages and grew up among blind students in schools where my parents worked. I consider myself one of the blind tribe with sight and passion in science seeking efficient ways to make their lives better. I started my career as an engineer while volunteering at CFBT in technical services, international communication and fund raising. I still spend time and play with blind students to learn how generations of our tribe adapt to our changing world.
In 2011, I went to a technical training on braille devices in Florida, USA hosted by Enabling Technologies Corp. and Freedom Scientific. I learned that braille technology has not changed much in past decades compared to more affordable consumer electronics. There must be someone to bridge this gap adapting affordable technologies in consumer electronic industries to niche assistive devices. So I started brewing ideas of rolling braille drum for embossers, and later in 2015 I developed a concept of rotary refreshable braille display. I missed the chance to have the first working prototype tested by my father by weeks due to his sudden passing. However, there are many more blind people who can find this invention useful. I share the same passion for better lives of blind people as my parents, and I do it with technological approach.