by Nuno Menezes
Bitcoin is a digital currency designed for everyone. It was designed for people all around the world to use it freely with no restraints. In 2008, Satoshi Nakamoto released the whitepaper ‘Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash system.’ Soon after its release, the whitepaper was translated into numerous languages and is available for free online; now there is an effort underway to produce the documents in tactile form.
Bitcoin always had its inclusive side, and since its inception, it saw no differences between users. Then the community became concerned about the topic of accessibility. Three years ago an appeal for a response was made in a popular forum by Michael Staffen, a Bitcoin enthusiast who was suffering cancer. The disease had left him functionally blind. So he was appealing to the community to do something about the lack of accessibility to people who were visually handicapped.
“This is making me very annoyed as I am a Bitcoin supporter and I have acquired my own bitcoin I just can’t goddamn use them without getting help from someone else. Multibit Is a java based wallet and as such, could have easily been made accessible if the Java accessibility JDK were included from the start. If we want Bitcoin to truly be successful, this has to be dealt with.”
Now, after Michael Staffen’s request, and thanks to the generous support of the Bitcoin community, a Braille version of the original whitepaper is now available. A few months ago, Adam Newbold, a community member, started a crowdfunding project with the intent to bring forth a Braille version of the Satoshi Nakamoto Whitepaper.
Adam Newbold stated, “Bitcoin is about openness and equality. Everyone should have equal access to the technology and all information related to it, regardless of disability.”
Even though Adam is not visually impaired, he became passionate about the project and invested a lot of efforts in bringing attention to Mr. Staffen’s concerns. The project more than doubled its original fundraising goal and soon brought in over 0.22 BTC, or approximately $4,000, at the current price.
“Think about the issues of someone with very little vision or none at all. Relying on audio interface is not feasible. Between homophones, for instance, the word ‘nose,’ someone might capture that as ‘knows.’ It’s really important for the software to account for every possible facet of the blind experience.”
The entrepreneur is also behind IcyWallet, a user-friendly bitcoin wallet for the visually impaired. On IcyWallet, Newbold said via email, “I found out that some blind people are storing coins on exchanges, or using web-based wallets. Then it hit me: the popular hardware wallets on the market today just aren’t accessible. There’s no audio output, and no screen reader support for seed generation or transaction confirmations. I decided to start working on IcyWallet to bring at least one cold storage option to the table, and while an air gapped Raspberry Pi isn’t as slick as a Trezor or Ledger, it’s a step in the right direction for people who want to add a layer of true security to their coin storage. And I’m really excited about being able to design this from the ground up with blindness in mind.”
Adam contracted the American Printing House (APH) for the Blind to do the transcription, which you can pre-order now for free. The raw files by the APH are planned to be released, which can be used in conjunction with Braille translation software such as Duxbury. Back in November, the American Printing House completed the transcription and tactile drawing work, and the whitepaper was sent to the production floor. Newbold then signed a final authorization to produce the first 50 ordered copies. Newbold also made a copy of the transcription on the project’s repository
The first copies of the Braille Bitcoin whitepaper are now finished, and physical copies are now in hand. The project creator is currently in the process of gathering shipping supplies, and everyone who ordered a copy should soon receive it. You can obtain a free copy of the Bitcoin Whitepaper, complete with tactile diagrams, from the project’s GitHub repo.