Jack hopes invention can help visually-impaired nationwide

PUBLISHED: 16:21 02 February 2016

Jack Tooze with one of his brail labels. Ref shs 04-16TI 9664. Picture: Terry Ife

Jack Tooze with one of his brail labels. Ref shs 04-16TI 9664. Picture: Terry Ife

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A visually-impaired teenager has invented an innovative labelling system that he hopes will eventually help people with sight disabilities nationwide.

One of the brail labels in the WESC shop in Sidmouth. Ref shs 04-16TI 9680. Picture: Terry IfeOne of the brail labels in the WESC shop in Sidmouth. Ref shs 04-16TI 9680. Picture: Terry Ife

Drawing on his own experiences, Jack Tooze, 18, was inspired to start a Braille writing project, but it was only while doing work experience in Sidmouth’s WESC charity shop that he realised the full potential of his ideas.

Jack – who studies at WESC Foundation and also works as a volunteer - designed a simple, but effective system of labelling items throughout the shop to assist blind and partially-sighted people.

Managers were so impressed with his social enterprise skills they asked him to roll the Braille labels out across all five of WESC’s stores.

The reaction has been ‘fantastic’ – but Jack is not stopping there.

One of the brail labels in the WESC shop in Sidmouth. Ref shs 04-16TI 9687. Picture: Terry IfeOne of the brail labels in the WESC shop in Sidmouth. Ref shs 04-16TI 9687. Picture: Terry Ife

Speaking about the invention, he said: “I realised from my own experience that this is something that did not exist and could. I thought this is something that is needed.

“People have told me it really helps them when they are trying to shop and find out prices and basic information about things that we would otherwise have to ask about.

“I write the labels out in Braille and then the enablers helped me cut them out and stick them on the shelves.

“It’s a project that can be used far and wide - I hope it will be rolled out to help visually-impaired people everywhere.”

As well as studying, the busy teenager helps out in the foundation’s catering department and volunteers once-a-week in the WESC social enterprise shops – splitting his time between Sidmouth’s Fore Street premises and Exeter.

He boards at WESC – a specialist centre for visual impairment – during the week and returns to his family in Wellington each weekend.

Jack added: “Last week I did my first-ever session in the visually impaired room at WESC, helping people do their Braille lessons. I will maybe become a Braille teacher – it is very hard for some students. I have learned it for quite a long time now so I find it quite easy.”

Manager of the Sidmouth shop, Sharon Green, said: “Jack was doing work experience when he started producing the labels to use in the shop. He has since been brought back to distribute them across all of the five WESC stores.

“It has just been fantastic – the response we have had from people to Jack’s invention has been really amazing.”


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