Electronic Braille


By MATP Staff Member M. Catherine McAdam

I still find my braille display an amazing assistive technology! It plugs into my computer with a USB port and up pops the braille! “These devices operate by raising and lowering different combinations of pins electronically to produce in braille what appears on a portion of the computer screen

About Braille Technology

I also use a 12-cell display with my iPod. Sadly, these awesome devices are still quite expensive. However, for Braille users, they can make a major difference in work production. Imagine doing computer programming or web development without access to detailed information at your fingertips!

The good news is that many of these displays work with the open source free screen reader NVDA , so if you need to make a choice for personal use, that may help.

There are also some innovative things happening including electronic Braille on a watch, For example, this article: No, This $300 Braille Smartwatch Won’t Revolutionize Reading For The Blind. Braille on a watch may need some work, but is interesting!

Our local University of Michigan team is developing an electronic braille reader:

  • In Pursuit of the Holy Braille.
  • Bringing Braille back with better display technology

National Braille press is developing a portable, refreshable braille computer and optional smart phone, with a goal of keeping the cost down – Braille to Go (B2G).

I still get asked if we really need Braille given our computer generation, and the answer is a resounding yes! Think about Braille notation done without a computer or try going without a pencil or pen for a week. I’ve   been told by some that they no longer use those antiquated devices, but I challenge that response. What do you do when the power goes out, or the battery dies? And, for those who are deaf/blind, Braille, and especially a Braille display, is a life line for computer and phone use!

Thank you U of M and National Braille Press for taking on these awesome projects!

If you don’t know what Braille is you can request a free braille alphabet card at: Free Braille alphabet card.


What do you think? Let us know!