Template:Infobox scholar Rachel Zimmerman Brachman (born 1972) is a Canadian-born space scientist and inventor.[1] Brachman invented the "Blissymbol Printer" in 1984, making it simple for users with physical disabilities to communicate. A user can choose various Blissymbols to convey his or her thoughts and the printer translates those images to written text. Her invention was recognized world-wide and she has received several award for her achievements.[2]


She was born Rachel Zimmerman in London, Ontario. From a young age she showed great interest in art, debate, music and especially science. At the age of twelve, Brachman developed a software program using Blissymbols. Her "Blissymbol Printer" is catered to those with severe physical disabilities, such as cerebral palsy, as it provides a facile method of communication. A user can simply point to various symbols on a page or board through the use of a special touch pad. When the user chooses a symbol, the Blissymbol Printer converts the image to written English or French; allowing his or her thoughts to be transcribed effectively. Brachman's original science project idea lead to her winning a silver-medal at the Canada-wide, World Exhibition of Young Inventors (1985) and the YTV Television Youth Achievement Award. With her interest in space technology and assistive intelligence, Brachman now works at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory with a goal of tailoring NASA innovations to the needs of people with disabilities.[2]

She went on to earn a BA in physics from Brandeis University in 1995 and a master's degree in Space Science from the International Space University in France in 1998.[3] Zimmerman attempted to earn a master's degree in astronomy from the University of Western Ontario, but two months into the program she was hit by a car while riding her bike and forced to drop out of the program.[4]

Scientific careerEdit

She has worked at the NASA Ames Research Center, the Canadian Space Agency, The Planetary Society and the California Institute of Technology.[3] Since 2003, she has been employed as Solar System and Technology Education and Public Outreach Specialist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Using her friendships made from the International Space University, Zimmerman is able to organize a Saturn essay contest for middle school and high school students in over 50 countries. Her work has been published in the Planetary Report, the Journal of the National Space Society and NASA's Ames Research Center Astrogram.[5] Zimmerman is now currently working on Radioisotope Power System Public Engagement as well as formal education for the Cassini-Huygens Mission to Saturn and Titan. Rachel leads teacher professional development workshops at National Science Teachers Association and California Science Teachers Association annual conferences. From 2013 to 2016, Rachel was president of Science Education for Students with Disabilities. Who is this chick.


In 2011, she received the Visionary Award of the Women in Film and Television Showcase at the Toronto International Film Festival.[1]


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