Mira Winner's Studio | Product Innovation of the Year - Tactile Engineering, Rising Entrepreneur - David Schleppenbach
Tactile Engineering CEO David Schleppenbach sits down with Inside Indiana Business's Gerry Dick to discuss winning both Product Innovation of the Year and Rising Entrepreneur.
Against a backdrop of nearly 30 years of consistent warnings that their concept was “impossible” to achieve, the Tactile Engineering team proved the naysayers wrong with the launch of the Cadence tablet, a mass-produced, affordable, reliable and portable electronic braille and graphics display for the blind and visually impaired (B/VI) community. Until Cadence, blind people – including tens of thousands of Hoosiers – lacked adequate access to braille and tactile graphics, resulting in literacy rates under five percent and an unemployment rate of more than 50 percent. Cadence brings education for the B/VI community into the modern age, giving them many of the modern computer-based conveniences that sighted people take for granted.
Dave Schleppenbach is a lifelong champion of improving accessibility of STEM content and careers for people with disabilities. At his first company, GH, LLC, he pioneered innovations in braille production and tactile graphics design, building GH into one of the largest producers of braille in the world. He later started Tactile Engineering and Tactile Solutions to pursue his long-held dream of making an affordable mass-produced tactile graphics display and tablet computer for the blind. Schleppenbach led the Tactile team through years of bootstrapped research and development, manufacturing, sales, and fundraising, interchangeably wearing the hats of CEO, sales director, engineer, and researcher. In 2022, he secured solid funding, brought its Lafayette manufacturing facility online, and began deployment of its Cadence tablets in schools throughout the state and world.