The turning point in her life came when in the sixth grade, while researching Keller and Braille, she stumbled across a book on Blissymbols. With the idea of a science fair coming soon, she dove into everything about the system Blissymbols, communication system for the severely disabled, and decided to research other methods to improve it’s accessibility. It was then, at the science fair at the age of 12, that she created the Blissymbol printer.
This new device used a software program to enable those using Blissymbol language to “talk” to each other and preform all the other types of communication through the computer. Until then the user needed another person to translate the symbols they would point out. With the new printer, she developed a tap pad that enabled the person to simply touch the board and the software would do the translating, transmitting the output in the language of the user’s choice onto a computer screen. When she initially presented the concept at a science fair, it received a silver medal and she went on to compete in the World Exhibition of Achievement of Young Inventors. The Blissymbols printer also ended up winning a silver medal at the Canada-wide contest. Rachel Zimmerman, along with her forward-thinking invention, were showcased when they won a VTV Television Youth Achievement Award. Rachel continues her passion for the sciences.
Today according to her Linkin profile, she attended Bradeis University and International Space University. She has worked for
• Outreach Specialist at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
• Education Outreach Coordinator at Jet Propulsion Laboratory
• Education and Outreach Specialist at California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
• Education and Outreach Coordinator at The Planetary Society
• Space Vision System Specialist at Canadian Space Agency
• Intern at NASA Ames Research Center
• Master of Space Studies student at International Space University
Rachel now works for NASA and still has the same concern for those who are not able-bodied. She is currently helping NASA mold their innovations to better fit the needs of disabled people. To this day she works on better forms of communications for the disabled. Below is and example of a tap=board used by those severely handicapped for communication, thanks to Rachel Zimmerman.