Massachusetts father invents braille toy for special-needs child


MIDDLEBOROUGH, Mass. (CNN) – A rare genetic disease already took her hearing and in a few years, it will take her eyesight as well.

The little girl’s father now taking action, inventing a toy to help her adjust to a new world.

Rebecca Lacourse knows exactly how this toy works, wearing her cochlear implant so she can hear. This two-year-old toddler is ready to make some noise.

The BecDot is her dad’s invention.

“You can take a toy and place it on the reader and it’ll make a noise,” said Jake Lacourse, Rebecca’s dad. “So g-o-a-t just popped up.”

A simple concept with a serious goal. The BecDot offers an early introduction to braille, which helps the visually impaired “read” using raised dots.

“We’re not trying to teach her how to spell the word “goat” right now or anything. Just trying to give her that idea,” said Jake.

Jake got the idea for the BecDot after Rebecca was diagnosed as a newborn with the most aggressive form of usher syndrome. It’s a rare genetic condition that severely affects vision, hearing and balance.

“I can’t even explain how devastated I felt,” said Beth Lacourse, Rebecca’s mom.

Born completely deaf, Rebecca could become blind too by the time she’s a teenager. She already has trouble seeing at night and her field of view is starting to narrow.

“We still feel like we have to get her to see different things and different places, before we run out of time,” said Beth.

Right now, there’s no cure for usher syndrome. So Jake and Beth stay focused on making Rebecca’s life better.

“We see the challenges that she faces every day uh you know in her own environment. And those are all problems that I just see solutions for,” said Jake.

The BecDot is still in the development stage.

Jake hopes to keep the cost low so that it’s affordable to families around the world.

“I think that’s our way of dealing it, is keeping busy and trying to help other people along the way,” said Beth.

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