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3D printed £60 Braille mobile phone unites tech and blind community

A UK firm claims to have released the world's first Braille-equipped mobile phone.

London-based OwnFone, which aims to bring key mobile features to blind consumers, is flogging the special handset for £60.

Read more: Access to technology remains an issue for the disabled community

The front and rear sides of the device are built using 3D printing technologies, and Tom Sunderland, the phone's creator, said that this helped keep costs down.

"3D printing... provides a fast and cost-effective way to create personalised Braille buttons," Sunderland told the BBC.

For those that can't read Braille but still want the phone, OwnFone will print raised lettering on the keys. It is also customisable, with consumers able to design their own handset on the company's website.

"The phone can be personalised with two or four Braille buttons which are pre-programmed to call friends, family, carers or the emergency services," continued Sunderland. "This is the first phone to have a 3D printed keypad."

Read more: 62% think technology can level playing field for people with disabilities

Other companies have created phones for the visually-impaired in the past, but OwnFone claims to be the first firm to have put its device on general sale.

The disabled community has been overlooked by many major technology firms for far too long, but the release of this gadget looks like a step in the right direction.