Pairing and Using the BrailleNote Apex BT with iOS4.x

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

If you have a BrailleNote Apex BT from Humanware and an iOS device running 4.0 or later, you can use the Apex to both view, in braille, what VoiceOver says and to type, in braille, when you are in any edit field. Below are the steps to pair the two devices. This assumes that bluetooth is enabled on both the iTouch and BrailleNote, that you have not tried to pair the devices before in any way, and that the device name of your BrailleNote Apex has not been changed. The device name can be viewed by going to options, connectivity, setup options, computer name. By default, it is "APEXxxxxxx", where xxxxxx is the last six digits of your serial number. If this is not your Apex's name, please change it to match the above pattern or the iTouch will not see the Apex (note that "apex" must be in all caps in the name). Please also note that, currently, there are problems with QT Apex models that limit the functionality of the braille terminal, and so these instructions apply primarily to BT models only. This was fixed in Keysoft 9.2 - users can press fn-b to enter braille-only mode, where the home row acts as a braile keyboard. Full QT support in iOS is still absent.

  1. On the Apex, enter terminal mode by pressing t from the Main Menu. Select the bluetooth port by pressing b, then enter. The words "braille terminal" will appear on the display, and no speech will be heard, even if speech is on.
  2. On the iTouch, with VoiceOver enabled, go to Settings, general, accessibility, VoiceOver, Braille. After about ten seconds, find the list of devices. Your Apex should be the only device listed as this scan only picks up compatible braille displays.
  3. You must double tap the Apex in this list. When you do, you will have only ten seconds or so to enter the security code, which is 0000 (that is four zeros). You will be presented with a standard number pad, just like when you dial the iPhone or unlock the iTouch. Once you enter the four zeros, you will need to find the "pair" button, which is in the upper right of the screen. Double tap it and, assuming you entered the proper code in time, braille will appear on the display of your Apex and you are free to start brailling.

Note that, once you do this once, you now need only enter terminal mode, then toggle VoiceOver off and on. Once VO turns on, it will automatically scan for displays (assuming bluetooth is on) and pair with the Apex once it sees it. Toggling can consist of turning off VO and turning it back on, or simply locking and unlocking the iTouch (this last one lets you leave VO's speech off if you want to).

Troubleshooting:

  • If you run out of time when typing the code, just try again. After three attempts, you will not be able to keep trying. To fix this, return to settings, general, and this time select bluetooth. From there, select the Apex, then double tap the "forget this device" button. This should let you try three more times to pair, as instructed above.
  • If the Apex does not appear when you scan for braille displays, check that your Apex's name is set properly (described above), make sure that bluetooth is enabled on both devices, make sure that the Apex is in terminal mode, and make sure that you had not already tried several unsuccessful pairing attempts (you must forget the Apex, as described in the previous list item, if this is the case). Also, you must not have used the Apex's connectivity menu to try to pair or activate anything on the iTouch. If you have done this, you must remove pairing and deactivate all services from the Apex's bluetooth menu, as described in the Apex manual.
  • If you still cannot get the Apex to show up or pair, try restarting the phone. To do this, hold down the lock/power button until VO says "slide to power off". Release the button and double tap the screen to activate this slider and turn off the iTouch. Wait about ten seconds, then press the lock/power button to boot the phone. Speech will come on after about 20 seconds or so, once iOS has booted.

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5 Comments

Bluetooth with iPHONE and Braillenote Apex

Hello. I went to Settings on my iPHONE and went to General/Bluetooth. I click on my Braillenote in the list and accidentally click that "Forget this Device" button. I tried the steps that were mentioned in this artical but nothing seems to help!
What's going on?

What does not working mean?

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Hello,
First, when you say you followed the steps in the articl, do you mean the troubleshooting steps or the steps in the main article? Second, when you way it does not work, does the apex not show up at all, or does it show but immediately give you a popup about the pairing being usuccessful? You might try completely restarting your iOS device, then run through the pairing process again.

First, I am no expert on

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

First, I am no expert on braille displays. With that said, have you tried turning bluetooth off and back on on both the iPhone and the Apex? It might also be worth restarting the devices. When I've paired devices, i've found it easiest to have the iPhone ready and searching when I turn on bluetooth on the other device.

braille displays are different

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Yes, restarting the devices should help (see my revision to the guide). However, when pairing a display, you must have the display active before you search for it, and you must use Voiceover's braille item, not the bluetooth manager in settings > general.