Organization Details

What is your organization's name?

Thinkerbell Labs

What is your organization's classification?

For-profit, including B-Corp or similar models

In what city, town, or region is your organization headquartered?

Bangalore, Karnataka, India

Provide your organization’s mission and/or vision statement and list its core values.

Thinkerbell Labs is building innovative, accessible solutions in efforts to make education inclusive. Our current focus is to make products that help improve learning outcomes for the visually impaired.

With Annie, the impact created will revolve around helping millions of visually impaired children become literate, thereby kickstarting their education and paving the way to employment and independence. We envision a society with inclusive economic growth for people with visual impairments and enabling them to lead independent lives.
Core values 

  • Equity

  • Inclusion

  • Tech enabled social innovations

How many products or programs does your organization operate? Please use numeric values only.


What stage of development is your organization’s product or program that is the focus of your LEAP Project?

Growth: An organization with an established product or program that is rolled out in one or more communities.
Team Lead Details

Who (first and last name) is the Team Lead for your application and LEAP Project?

Shreya Shrinivas

Describe the role the Team Lead plays in your organization. [100-200 words recommended]

Shreya is the Inclusive Education Lead at Thinkerbell Labs. She heads research on new Business models, identification of potential partners. 

Explain how your Team Lead and supporting team members are well-positioned to effectively support the LEAP Project, given other priorities within your organization. [200-500 words - recommended]

Shreya Shrinivas along with Siddhant Rathore and Khevna Parekh are part of the LEAP project. 

The team has an overall experience in Business development, Learning Experience and Content development. The inputs and learnings from the LEAP project is necessary across these fields for them function seamlessly. Developing new business models and new partnership conversations require strong evidence of the impact of Annie. 
Learning Experience and content development go hand in hand with the regular functionalities of usage and user monitoring, pedagogy, operational monitoring and interfacing. 

Solution Details

One-line solution summary: In 20 words or less, summarize your organization's product or program that is the focus of your LEAP Project.

Self-Learning Braille Literacy device that helps visually impaired students learn to read, write, and type in Braille through multimodal content.

Define the problem that your solution seeks to solve. [200-500 words recommended]

Braille literacy rates across the globe are abysmal - less than 10% in the US, less than 4% in the UK, and less than 1% in India. India has the most visually impaired people in the world. This presents a serious problem; without braille education, the quality of life for the visually impaired is significantly decreased. Without braille education, blind people are often unable to understand or use written communication. This consequently leads to higher dependency on sighted peers and decrease in employability. Those in poverty bear the brunt of the negative effects of blindness. Visual Impairment like many disabilities, along with lack of literacy leads to unemployment, which furthers the cycle of poverty and low standard of living.

The current primary education tools include wooden blocks, marbles, and plastic slates, with continuous 1:1 teacher supervision. The lack of special educators, insufficient STEM content in Braille, and lack of general awareness have contributed to  inefficient rehabilitation among the visually impaired. The total annual economic burden due to the visually impaired in India is estimated at USD 77 billion of which USD 22 billion is due to childhood blindness.This issue is compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic with schools closed and visually impaired children having no access to education at all. The efficiency of Braille learning can be improved drastically. It is essential to address this issue as there is a very high correlation between Braille literacy and employment among the visually impaired.

Describe your solution and how it works in simple terms. [200-500 words recommended]

Annie is the World’s First Braille Literacy device that helps the visually impaired learn to read, write, and type in Braille, on their own through interactive audio-guided content in vernacular languages. Annie allows for easy monitoring and evaluation of student progress via Helios (analytics platform) and downloading of new content by seamlessly integrating with the ecosystem. It also allows for the scheduling of tests and lessons and also enables teachers to give homework.  

The device consists of three modules: 

 1. Reading

  • Twin large braille cells to introduce the child to braille.

  • Six standard-sized braille cells cover all primary learning needs including contractions.

 2. Typing 

  • Universal design based on the standard brailler.

  • Soft keys that are much easier to press than those of a mechanical typewriter.

3. Writing

  • First-of-its-kind braille slate that is paper free.

Annie gives instantaneous feedback for mistakes and continuously evaluates the user, making the learning experience engaging and retentive. It introduces the world’s first digital braille games in single-player, multiplayer modes, challenges, lessons, and exercises to bring in a collaborative and smart learning experience.

Select the key characteristics of your target population. Select all that apply.

  • Pre-primary age children (ages 2-5)
  • Primary school children (ages 5-12)
  • Persons with Disabilities

In which country or countries does your solution currently operate?

India and US

Upload your solution's Theory of Change or Logic Model.

Where would you place your solution on Nesta's Standards of Evidence?

Level 2: You capture data that shows positive change, but you cannot confirm you caused this.

To date, what research/studies has your organization conducted that have helped demonstrate the effectiveness of your solution? [200-500 words recommended]

Foundational and Formative research

We have done extensive field studies, case studies, usability studies while developing Annie. With regular inputs from users and teachers we have created a feasible device that teaches students Braille. In addition to independent field studies, collaboration and deep partnerships with US  (American Printing House for the Blind), UK (RNIB) agencies responsible for early childhood interventions also play a significant role in developing a relevant solution.

The District Collectorate of Ranchi has also conducted a cost benefit analysis of Annie.

National Institute for the Empowerment of the Persons with Visual Disabilities, Dehradun (NIEPVD)  has evaluated Annie on a pedagogical level. NIEPVD is a premier Institute in the field of visual disability working under the administrative control of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India. They have conducted an evaluation which included visually impaired teachers, professors and students who tested the device and have given feedback accordingly.
Annie received an overall average rating of 3.92/5

What has the research/studies you have conducted revealed about your solution and how did it inform your work moving forward? [200-500 words recommended]

  • NIEPVD field study showed us that there was a requirement to have more than one language especially a vernacular language in which the student is comfortable learning in needed to be added. 

  • UK field study, user interviews, implementation studies with RNIB, and local boroughs. We discovered that in the UK, writing module of our device is not required. 

  • District Collectorate of Ranchi -Through the cost benefit analysis & implementation studies found out to reach the same learning outcomes they would have to invest 5 times if they were to approach it in the current implementation methods and pedagogies 

  • NIEPVD Evaluation Report - expert panel reviewed research claims by our team across Literacy, Interactive and Gamified content, E-monitoring and connectivity, Vernacular and English language content, Hardware Designn and Ease of training and rated 3.9/5 . This led us to work on the usability, training and implementation

  • APH field study - several improvements were made over user experience, monitoring, content & curriculum modification for the US

LEAP Project Details

Describe your organization's need to strengthen the evidence base of your solution. [200-500 words recommended]

  1. To know the effectiveness of multi-modal gamified learning to improve learner's overall development by using stories, games, role-models, as our solution aims to reduce the gap in learning between sighted and visually impaired learners.

    1. This will help us in becoming de-facto method of braille literacy & teaching across the world

  2. Verify and validate content pedagogy, which aims to improve learner’s attention span, memory, retention and mental health, leading to holistic cognitive development.

  3. Owing to higher credibility of evidence-based solutions, it can help build better partnerships, and help us in getting funding from corporations and foundation partners and help bring in ‘Impact Investment’ into the sector of inclusive education

  4. Achieving better outcomes and increased productivity

    1. Develop a set of best practices amongst all braille smart class centres, so that such practices can be disseminated to every braille smart class centre.

  5. To better connect students, teachers, schools, parents, relevant organizations and other potential stakeholders, forming a community to enable more democratic and inclusive demand-creation and resource distribution.

What are 2-3 research questions that you would like your LEAP Project to help you answer? [100 words recommended]

  1. How to use the evidence-base of our product to catalyze and accelerate learning, bring more stakeholders (parents, teachers) into the Annie Learning Ecosystem by learning how to draw a comparative analysis, at scale, showing the positive change in critical thinking and holistic learning of learners before and after learning on Annie?
  2. What metrics can we use for tracking and reporting progress on the learning journey of students and how can we use those metrics  to improve the learning experience of all students?
  3. What are the challenges faced by the visually impaired learners and how can Annie's content be further adapted to address these?

What type of research/studies do you think will help answer your stated questions? Select all that apply.

  • Foundational research (literature reviews, desktop research)
  • Formative research (e.g. usability studies; feasibility studies; case studies; user interviews; implementation studies; pre-post or multi-measure research; correlational studies)
  • Summative research (e.g. correlational studies; quasi-experimental studies; randomized control studies)

Please elaborate on your selection above by describing your desired outputs of the 12-week LEAP Project sprint. [200 - 500 words recommended]

  1. Learning metrics that can be used to track and report growth & progress of students
  2. Insights on how we can design and implements assessments via most effective methodologies for evidence generation
  3. Actionable recommendations on how we can align our content and curriculum even more with learning variability
  4. Developing benchmarks for braille literacy from the data generated
  5. Validation and evaluation of core hypothesis i.e multi-modal gamified learning to increase rate of learning for visually impaired learners
  6. Connections of impact evaluators, assessment experts, professors, sector-experts and others in the field to disseminate our findings, and build on it by working with the above to better utilize the existing evidence and generate more knowledge about inclusive education. 
  7. More insights into best practices of braille teaching and literacy, so that we can bring out-of-school children by engaging with their parents (and other stakeholders) based on data and evidence.
  8. Getting to know other relevant partners in this sector, to be able to harvest synergies to create a bigger impact.

How will your organization put these outputs into action? [200-500 words recommended]

  1. Improve the analytics dashboard (Helios) by organising it around most-apt learning metrics and other measurable data-points

  2. Research and advocacy: putting insights gained to gather more data via research trials and advocacy efforts

  3. Connect with other partners in this sector so that we use synergies in operation to gather more evidence in a structured framework.

  4. Better design of curriculum, as per requirements of different students’, to better incorporate learning variability.

  5. Designing an assessment model to gather more evidence about the impact of the device

  6. Coming up with new services, models and products to cater to  other needs of the visually impaired individually in a more concise manner.

Describe your desired short-term and long-term outcomes of the 12-week LEAP Project sprint for both your organization and solution. [200-500 words recommended]


  1. Generating and disseminating more evidence with regards to braille literacy and/or intervention of technology in inclusive education enables other stakeholders to make data-driven and better informed decisions. 

  2. More engaging content to increase user-engagement and user-retention 

  3. Better growth and progress tracking of students via a modified analytics dashboard

  4. Increasing braille literacy via evidence-based solution

  5. Increases credibility of the product, leading to higher reach of the product and consequently, increasing braille literacy

  6. Improved learning outcomes based on the newly designed metrics & indicators


  1. Improved employability amongst our learners in the long term

  2. Higher critical thinking in learners due to holistic focus on memory, regular and positive feedback, retention etc.

  3. Boosts the economy by adding tax-paying citizens

  4. Community of visually impaired individuals and other stakeholders

  5. Empowerment of visually-impaired students

  6. Moving up the hierarchy in Nesta’s Standard of Evidence, to enable the organisation to expand its evidence base and ensure replicability of results in different geographies.

Solution Team

to Top