Update 2.5.19

“Maybe there are things you can’t necessarily measure,” Brady had suggested before the game. “But in the end maybe they’re more important than anything you can measure.”

3D printed ELIA Frame keycap prototypes on a Gigabyte Force K83 mechanical gaming keyboard.

3D printed ELIA Frame keycap prototypes on a Gigabyte Force K83 mechanical gaming keyboard.

Conversation with Sassy Outwater - Wright

We had the opportunity to talk again with Sassy Outwater-Wright of the Massachusetts Association for the Blind. She has been an advisor to us since October. She and I have been talking about what the ELIA community needs in terms of a concerted effort to change the education, employment, literacy and independence dynamics. Given that the blind and visually impaired have such untapped potential and costs, and that that potential for change be measured in the billions of dollars in lost wages and higher health care costs per year, we believe that a multi million dollar effort, a “moon shot” if you will, would be a worthwhile investment in this community. Every year, this community could be making valuable contributions to society, if we can harness the resources for a “barn raising” effort that includes hardware, curriculum development and some basic services. Sassy and I have been discussing who needs to be engaged to serve on the moon shot team and what resources we would need to achieve it. I posted a statistical overview of some of the challenges we face on LinkedIn.

Printer Development

We discussed and chose a new paper path for the printer that will result in the paper exiting the printer on the top of it. From a usability perspective, this is helpful, as the end user can retrieve output from any side of the printer, and it reduces the footprint of the printer. Indeed, the new printer is expected to be 50% smaller than our latest prototype. We also reviewed the electric engineering design and firmware design for the printer. Luckily, our in-house engineering team is led by Steve Getz, who adeptly managed the engineering discussion with Simplexity. The conversation wrapped up with a review of the timeline for this part of the engagement with Simplexity. This phase should conclude by the end of February, at which time we will have a clear road map for the final development of the TouchPrinter. Simplexity has been incredible, both in terms of their unmatched knowledge of our product’s development and in terms of the fluidity with which they are able to collaborate with us.

Kelsa Trom (NEW INC)

I met with Kelsa Trom of NEW INC this past week as well. She is the new programing lead at NEW INC and as such, I wanted to touch base with her and see how we could help her serve its community. There are a few initiatives, such as peer-to-peer check in groups and a social impact entrepreneurship and investing conference. Byron and I would value a peer-to-peer check-ins once a week and have discussed initiating one. If we could reduce the experience to best practices for NEW INC, we believe it could improve the success rates of entrepreneurs at NEW INC and make it a force for change in much the same way that Y-Combinator is a force. And indeed, a Paul Graham blog post from 2007 inspired this effort. It is worth a read if you want to succeed as an entrepreneur. And indeed, I would highly recommend you share it with any entrepreneur you know. It will change their lives.

Adam Linn and Community Development

Our discussions with Adam this week were informed by our meeting last week with Tom DeRosa. We reviewed labels. We discussed what we could do better, such as:

  1. Getting a small group of blind people together to learn ELIA and to teach us
  2. Giving a TED talk where we would share Adam’s experience with ELIA Frames and what it could mean for society
  3. Building relationships with 3M and other companies for prototyping

Check out @Linnspired here!

Project Management Software

One of our advisors, Rick Mangi, the CIO of Chartbeats, recommended that we manage our projects with project management (PM) software. So we have licenses for Merlin, which works on the Mac. PM has been a part of the week, as Byron has spent time to learning the ins and outs of it.

Merlin Project logo shown

Merlin Project logo shown

PM breaks a project down into tasks and subtasks, with dependent tasks delineated. It’s good for repeat projects like SBIR grants and for general large projects, but even for smaller ones. It is hard to escape the realities of a project when you’ve made a PM document. You can better budget your time and resources. Furthermore, if you are fatigued or don’t know what to do next, it acts as a surrogate brain, reminding you what comes next. And if you have 30 minutes here or there, sometimes you can just choose an easier task and square that away. It is also a good document to share across the team. Anyone can pick the document up and know where the project stands. …..We are still getting our feet wet with PM, but look forward to crushing tasks using it.

Update 1.29.19

Last week we continued to develop our collaborations with outside partners in gaming, protyping and production, product development and communication. Through them, we can serve our movement efficiently, as they bring industry leading expertise that we do not have to develop in-house. By utilizing them, we can focus on what we do well.

We also met with a new pilot participant who had sought us out for assistance with labeling of important items in their daily lives. And we had a helpful meeting at NEW INC.

Protoyping and Fabrication

Through Emily Sauer, of Ohnut, we met Andrew Brase. He helped Emily prototype and produce her product. He is helping us to prototype our keyboard overlay. To do so, he has been collaborating with our engineering team and Jon Bobrow, of Move38, who last year helped us prototype a keyboard overlay for iPads. We are sharing design files so that Andrew can create a product which cleanly overlays on Apple keyboards.

Adam (on the left) using his hands to show Tom (on the right) the letter “C”. Tom and Adam are both previously sighted.

Adam (on the left) using his hands to show Tom (on the right) the letter “C”. Tom and Adam are both previously sighted.

Labeling for Tom

Through our community consultant Adam Linn, we were introduced to Tom DeRosa, the captain of Adam’s blind baseball team (the NY Rockers). Tom wanted assistance labeling every day items. He sent us a list of labels and we produced them with the TouchPrinter. We used 3M adhesive to make the labels.

Tom had lost his vision in his teens and as such, has visual experience with the standard roman alphabet. In the space of two hours, we taught him ELIA Frames and he began reading. We then shared the labels for his critique. He will be using them and will advise us on their format, feel, durability, etc. He may also join us as a pilot reader, practicing ELIA Frames and learning to become a faster reader.

Manila tab folders with adhesive ELIA Frame labels saying “business”, “licenses”, and “intake”.

Manila tab folders with adhesive ELIA Frame labels saying “business”, “licenses”, and “intake”.

Tom reading the “business” and “intake” labels.

Tom reading the “business” and “intake” labels.

Rasu Jilani

We meet regularly with the NEW INC incubator staff to share our progess and challenges. They often suggest contacts within the NEW INC community who could be helpful. This past week we met with Rasu about having too many balls in the air and about how to build community. He had a number of suggestions that we are following up on.

Printer Development

We continue to collaborate with Simplexity. This week we reviewed four TouchPrinter designs, each with a different configurations of the core components of the TouchPrinter. It was fun talking with the Simplexity team as they are the most experienced inkjet printer engineers on the planet and have a nuanced understanding and appreciation of how a printer takes a blank sheet of paper and turns it into a document. They certainly love their work and as such, it is a pleasure collaborating with them.

Christian Mrockza

Christian and ELIA Life Technology, PBC began working together for the Kickstarter. He organized, filmed and edited the entire video. As it was a pleasure working with him on that initiative, we reached out to him to begin discussions of how we might work together to develop a series of testimonial and instructional videos centered on the ELIA Frames Font. He expressed enthusiasm for further collaboration and as such, we will work with him to plan our video presence.


At ELIA Life, we believe that games can be a powerful way for people to learn the ELIA Frames Font, that games can also be a tool to teach people skills using the font (e.g. touch typing on a keyboard), and that they can be used to test and optimize the font for other alphabets (e.g. Cyrillic, Greek, Hebrew or Persian).

Playmatics logo.

Playmatics logo.

Nicholas Fortugno is a founder of Playmatics, a leader in educational game development. His team is capable of designing a game that is engaging, generates useful data and improves training outcomes. We plan to work with them to load our toolbox with a number of helpful instructional, fun and enable us to better serve our target and impact audiences.

Update 1.18.19

ELIA Frame individual adhesive labels with “baking”, “soda”, “powder”, “sugar”, “socks”, “choco”, “under”, and “shirt”.

ELIA Frame individual adhesive labels with “baking”, “soda”, “powder”, “sugar”, “socks”, “choco”, “under”, and “shirt”.

"A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus."

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

We have always been a lean company. We stay this way by building relationships with professionals and teams who can collaborate with us when we need them, and when we don’t need them, they are lending their expertise to other organizations, or working for themselves. Many of our collaborators have been with us for more than a decade.

We also employ the practice of working with people and organizations on small projects first, wherever possible, before engaging in longer-term projects or employment (we learned from ReWork, by Jason Fried). This week’s work highlights our company’s efforts to build our internal and extended team. We will collaborate with them to help our community.

This week we had a meetings with:

  • Our consultant Adam Linn, who will be coming on board as a full time employee
  • Our product development partners, Simplexity PD
  • Our public relations and community development collaboration with Alex Daly and the Daly PR team
  • The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce
  • Conversations with current and potential future investors

Adam Linn

We have been collaborating with Adam Linn for one day a week since May of 2018. Originally, we reached out to him to see if he would be interested in learning ELIA Frames and helping us with a pilot reader program. Through it Adam became one of the fastest ELIA Frames readers. And through our interviews with him, he began advising us on everything from strategy to font design.

This week Adam agreed to join the team as a full-time employee and serve as our head of community development. He will lead efforts to build relationships within the consumer community and to institutional partners. He will also continue with his role on our corporate strategy team.

Read more on our team page.


This week we reviewed Simplexity’s design input requirements (DIR) documentation for the TouchPrinter™. A DIR provides guidance for the advance development of a product. It includes technology to be used, required performance of the end product, end user requirements, etc. To give you some examples of what is considered, this week we discussed the performance of components that will be in the printer, what sizes and weights of paper would be accepted by the printer, its physical footprint requirements, desired print speed, firmware needed to integrate subsystems, and the prioritization of features and benefits. The DIR will be updated throughout the development process. It will guide each of the ELT team as well as Simplexity’s team, all the way through to the printer's design-for-manufacturing.

Daly PR

We completed negotiations to work with Alex Daly and her team at Daly PR. During our Kickstarter campaign (in the spring of 2018) we were fortunate to work with Alex’s crowdfunding team (known then as Vann Alexandra). They were a major part of the success of the campaign. One of the signature successes of the campaign was the dozens of articles in the press we were able to attract.

We valued her collaboration and reached out to her in late 2018 to see if she would be interested in working together again outside of a Kickstarter. Fortunately, she was!

Once we have raised our next round of financing, Daly PR will help us 1) form new stories for press coverage, 2) find corporate partners to grow our movement, 3) engage target and impact audiences in an interactive and meaningful way, 4) introduce us to audiences with whom we can share our work (e.g. design teams in companies that seek to better serve marginalized communities).

The collaboration we sought isn’t what one would expect of a traditional PR firm. And as Daly PR has so much more capacity beyond just traditional PR, we felt it would be more rewarding and enjoyable to work with them as a more integral part of our outreach efforts. So we gave them a wish list of all the ways we would like to work with them and where we felt they could help make our movement happen. We discussed it with them and they shared their thoughts, and together we made concrete realistic plans for a new kind of partnership. It might be called a PR partnership, but we both expect that it will be much, much more!

Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce

Thanks to an advisor of ours, Anthony Woods of Anthem BlueCross BlueShield, we were introduced to the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. This past week we met with them and began discussions regarding how ELIA Life can collaborate with them, federal, state and local government, and local organizations to help our the city utilize ELIA Frames. We brainstormed about what avenues we might take to serve the Brooklyn community. It is the early stages of our relationship with the Chamber. We’ll keep you updated.

Financing Conversations

We had a number of conversations with investors and advisors regarding our current round of financing. These centered on the amount of financing we should raise. We have set milestones and we’ve estimated what capital we will need to reach them. Some are longer term than others. Our advisors have shared helpful advice in this regard. We are still forming a consensus on whether to raise a round that is enough capital for a national initiative, or one through which we can demonstrate more regional adoption.

Label Development and Production

Adam Linn has invited a baseball teammate of his to join us this current week, with the goals of teaching his teammate ELIA Frames and of providing the gentleman with labels that can help him do his professional work more easily. The specific task he would like help with is labeling folders. This week Byron created label sets using adhesive transfer samples from 3M. We shared them with Adam, who critiqued them. All went well, there will be some minor adjustments, then we will print the requested labels for our new contact. It will be exciting to see how he feels about the labels.

3M adhesive transfer being applied to ELIA Frame adhesive and hanging label prototypes.

3M adhesive transfer being applied to ELIA Frame adhesive and hanging label prototypes.

Testing ELIA Frame adhesive and hanging labels.

Testing ELIA Frame adhesive and hanging labels.