Meet the team
Josh Coffee graduated from the University of Vermont with a degree in Mechanical Engineering in 2011. During his senior year at UVM, Josh participated in a capstone design project sponsored by the National Federation of the Blind; The aim of this project was to develop prototype technologies for improoved access to digital graphics for and by Blind users. Upon graduating fro UVM, Josh and his colleagues formed EASY LLC to continue their work with the NFB and bring these products to market.
Co-founder, Vice President
Mike, co-founder of E.A.S.Y. LLC, is also a lecturer in mechanical engineering at the University of Vermont. His areas of expertise are mechanics, dynamics, design, and computer simulation. He has extensive experience in 3D mathematical and mechanical modeling, computer simulation animation, and constructing simple devices to test and verify results. Mike also has significant experience using freehand drawing for engineering, science, mathematics, and the fine and commercial arts. His drawing expertise gives him a strong appreciation for the utility of graphical information in education, work, and play and it could prove helpful in addressing constituent’s special needs.
Co-founder, Vice President
Mike, co-founder and Vice President of E.A.S.Y. LLC, is also a Research Associate Professor in the School of Engineering at University of Vermont. Over a 40 year career in engineering, Mike’s focus has shifted from more fundamental investigations of systems physiology in the presence of impairment and disability, to development of technologies for treatment, assessment and functional assistance. Mike has held teaching and research positions at MIT, administrative positions at the Rehabilitation Engineering Center of the University of Tennessee, Memphis, and the Rehabilitation Engineering Department at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in DC.
E.A.S.Y. LLC. is a Vermont-based company that produces affordable tactile drawing solutions for the blind and visually impaired. We firmly believe that drawing is not reserved solely for the sighted, and our mission is to bring free-hand tactile drawing into the lives of blind and visually impaired children and adults. Our inTACT Sketchpad and Eraser serve the same purpose as a pencil and paper does for sighted people, and our technology supports the growing tactile fluency movement within the blind and visually impaired community. We work closely with the National Federation of the Blind (NFB); its members and leadership give us invaluable feedback about our products, ensuring that they meet the needs of blind consumers.
Our story is a great example of what happens when a group of creative minds come together to approach a problem from all angles and multiple disciplines, ultimately generating a solution that has the potential to change thousands of lives. In August of 2008, Michael Rosen, an engineering professor at the University of Vermont, was looking for project ideas for his electrical and mechanical engineering capstone course called SEED (Senior Experience in Engineering Design). He was introduced to Al Maneki, a blind mathematician and prominent member of the National Federation of the Blind. Maneki’s message was clear: blind people could read and write Braille, but were missing the necessary technologies to have the same sort of tactile access to drawings – and to the act of drawing. Raised-line drawing tablets and sheets could be bought, but editing, saving, communicating and replicating free-hand tactile images were unrealized dreams. Rosen saw the challenge as ideal for student projects, and NFB President Marc Maurer made the pivotal decision that NFB’s Jernigan Institute would sponsor a UVM SEED project for that academic year.
NFB funding continued for the next two years. Between 2008 and 2011, Rosen and his faculty colleague, Mike Coleman, a mechanical engineer and accomplished visual artist, mentored a sequence of student design teams. Rosen, Coleman, and their students designed and built prototypes for a digitizing, raised-line sketchpad for capturing and disseminating tactile images. They also invented the world’s first eraser that allows blind people to edit their tactile drawings on the fly, and unique printer that renders tactile images by producing continuous raised lines. In the summer of 2011, after establishing the technical feasibility for building these products and receiving an enthusiastic response from the NFB, Rosen and Coleman, along with their former student Josh Coffee, decided to start a company that would distribute and manufacture the sketchpad, eraser, and Printer; E.A.S.Y. LLC was born.
Current Activities and Future Direction
We continue to receive support from the NFB. We were also awarded a loan from UVM Ventures, as well as a Phase I Small Business Grant from NIH. In 2013, we shared the National Braille Press’s Touch of Genius Award. We are located at the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies, where we benefit from affordable office and shop space as well as coaching on entrepreneurship. We are well on our way to achieving our goal of putting tactile sketchpads in the hands of blind students and their parents, as well as blind artists, architects, mathematicians, and other blind professionals. Five years from now, we hope that be in every classroom where blind children are taught.
Get in touch with us.
Access to our Help & Support for FAQ and downloadable documentation for inTACT products.
E.A.S.Y. as your vendor
E.A.S.Y. Tactile Graphics welcomes school district administrator or institutions to contact us directly for bulk order or any other request
210 Colchester Avenue, Burlington, Vermont 05405