Trailblazing technology – Deane Blazie and the Braille 'n' Speak

Detroit native Deane Blazie has helped bring vision to people with sight loss through his two companies that became world leaders in producing low-cost computing devices for the blind.

In 1976, he was named one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men in America, an award given annually by the U.S. Junior Chamber, better known as the Jaycees. His nomination came from his design of a calculator for people who are blind, using a unique audio tactile display. That same year, he also co-founded Maryland Computer Service (MCS), which specialized in software design for businesses. Thanks to Mr. Blazie’s strong interest in problem solving for people who are blind, MCS also designed and marketed the first synthetic speech device for the blind – the Talking Telephone Directory. Soon, MCS became the world’s largest manufacturer of synthetic speech products and Braille printers.

In 1986, he founded Blazie Engineering, and that company became the world’s largest producer of products for the blind. In 1987, Blazie Engineering introduced the Braille ‘n’ Speak, a pocket note taker along the lines of today’s Personal Digital Assistants. The Braille ‘n’ Speak and other products produced by Blazie Engineering help the blind have greater access to information and with it, greater opportunity to reach their potential.

In 1989, Dean Blazie and the Braille 'n' Speak were awarded CNIB's inaugural Winston Gordon Award.