Braille display questions

Braille on Apple Products
I am considering purchasing a Braille display I can use with my iPhone. Would I need to pair any of the displays more than once? If I purchase a device such as a traditional notetaker with a qwerty keyboard, will i need to enter quick nav to enter text as I do with my Apple bluetooth keyboard? How do you enter a password that has capital letters, numbers, and other symbols if the device has a Perkins style keyboard? Is there a device that works better with the iPhone? I am considering the focus 40 blue from freedom Scientific and the Hims products. Thank you.



Submitted by mehgcap on Monday, May 27, 2013

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team
1. Qwerty notetakers will not work well. You will have to use the home row keys like braille keys, as in s d f for dots 3 2 1 and so on. So, unless you plan to do a lot with the notetaker outside of using it as a terminal, you may be better off with a braille keyboard. 2. No one device works better as far as iOS, though there are, of course, different qualities of displays. Overall, though, none should have to be paired more than once (barring resets) and all should be stable and work as expected. 3. People like the Focus line, but you also mentioned Hims. The advantage of the Braille Edge from Hims is that it includes basic notetaking functions that do not need the iPhone or another paired device to work, letting you use your Edge as a basic notetaker, calculator, calendar, and so on independent of any other devices, then pair it with your iPhone or computer when you want to. At $2700 (last I checked anyway) for forty cells, that seems the best bargain to me, giving you the best of both worlds. 4. To enter computer braille, just toggle it on with space-2-3-6 (or maybe it's space-3-5-6). Assuming you enabled 8 dot braille, which I highly recommend you do, entering symbols is as easy as just typing them in, from capital letters to accents to at signs. The other advantage of this mode is that there is no grade 2 translation, so you do not see the odd errors you can get with grade 2 entry on iOS. I hope this helps.

Submitted by Khalfan Bin Dhaher on Monday, May 27, 2013

Hello Sarah. I use a lot Braille displays with my iOS device. It's very useful especially when reading and typing long texts. I use HIMS BrailleSense On Hand. It's a great device, I love it myself. It's very handy, portable, simple and easy to carry. You don't have to pare it each and every time, once you've pared it, you are ready to use it with VoiceOver. You can capitalize a letter by hitting the dot 7 key (the back space key) with any letter. You can also make the on-screen keyboard visible and type on the screen. Please feel free to ask a question, I'm more than happy to help. Regards. Khalfan.

Hi, I have a refreshabraille which I use with my iPhone. Its pretty good, although I wish the display itself were bigger, yet I wish it stayed the same size. It would be nice if it were bigger, that way I can read larger texts, but its nice that its small, that way, I can easily put it in a backpack or pocket.

Submitted by Scott Davert on Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team
Hi Sarah. Once you have paired the display for the first time, meaning that you enter the authentication code required, when the display and phone are both turned on and in range, they should see each other and pair up. You may have to lock and then unlock your screen again to get this to happen, but often times it does this automatically as long as VoiceOver is running. If you have contracted braille on, you capitolize letters by putting a dot 6 before them, though you can also use dot 7 along with the letter either way. How you enter other symbols depends on whether contractions are on or off, but they can all be done. I personally agree with the Edge as a great display if you're looking for something that is 40 cells, but if possible, I'd recommend trying out both and seing what you're most comfortable with. The Focus 40 Blue and the Braille Edge each have a different feel to their cells. Also, as mentioned above, the Edge has other features and functions which you may or may not find useful.

Submitted by Isaac Hebert (not verified) on Tuesday, May 28, 2013

First I would get a braille display with a qwerty keyboard. Second Yes If you are using a qwerty keyboard yes you will use quick nav. Now you want to know if you have to pair the display more then once you should not have too. You should only have to pair the display once.

Hi. To clerify, you can use a bluetooth qwerty keyboard if you want and then you would indeed be able to use quicknav. However, with the 2 braille devices that have qwerty keyboards, meaning the Braille Note Apex and the Braille Sense u2, you won't be able to control the phone with quicknav. With the Apex, you will use the perkins style way of entering text using sdf and jkl for the 6 dots in a cell. With the u2 qwerty, you'll be able to enter text, but can't use functionality such as quicknav and the keys that allow you to do things like go to the home screen. This is a limitation of the way in which Apple has designed its braille drivers.

Submitted by Earth on Tuesday, May 17, 2016

I use my iphone with qwerty braillesnse u2 but I have trouble with the symbol on the keyboard. when I type in the symbol such as @ sign, it doesn't appear as an @ sign. what do I do to make it appear as an @ sign? thank you

Submitted by Wayne Scott Jr on Wednesday, May 18, 2016

I use a Focus 14 blue with my iPad. It works well. It has the Perkins style keyboard. When I had my iPod Touch, I used my braillenote Apex with the same style keyboard. I like my Focus 14 because it is very small and can easily fit into my backpack. Sometimes I wish it was bigger, but I have what I have. I paid about $1300 (not including the case). It came with a case, but I purchased a more heavy-duty case being I move around a lot. My advice is to try out different displays until you find that you are comfortable with. I called different companies when researching braille displays for my iPad. I originally got it as a backup in case something happened to my braillenote; but use the Focus as my primary display on my iPad because it is smaller.

There is one out there called the Braille Pen, but it doesn't have cursor routing keys. Those keys are useful for double tapping. Just call or lookonline different ones. Wayne

Submitted by Jake on Wednesday, May 18, 2016

All displays that are supported generally work well, though as others have said, I'd stay away from the qwerty devices if your primary use is for iOS. I'd personally never buy a product from Freedom Scientific given the way I've been treated by them in the past. HIMS makes good products and, in fact, after some deliberation and some time with a lot of different products, I decided on the Smart Beetle. If you're looking for a 40-cell, as it sounds like you are, their Braille Edge is very nice though too big for my taste (I like small displays for portability). Baum's Vario Ultra is also a really great product, and they have a 20 and a 40 cell version of that.
As for pairing, you should only need to pair more than once. However, something to keep in mind, how many Bluetooth devices do you intend to use? If you have multiple devices you plan to use on a regular basis, you might consider the Vario Ultra from Baum or the Smart Beetle, depending on what size of display you want. These two displays have the ability to pair with several devices at the same time.

Submitted by Deborah Armstrong on Monday, May 23, 2016

Before buying any Braille display, read its manual online and imagine yourself using it. Be sure to read any sections they have on iOS. One thing that sold me on the Focus Blue was the free training FS offered on using it both with JAWS and with iOS. The thing that sold me on the VarioUltra was its fine manual. I bought both for our department, and my only regret is that I didn't buy something with 40 cels, because I get very tired of panning.
Also if you are a clutz look for something with fewer buttons. On both my Braille displays I still hit the wrong button more often than I like.

Submitted by Jim Homme on Tuesday, November 8, 2016

In reply to by Scott Davert

Is it possible that the Focus 40 Blue Classic is not compatible with iPhone? When I follow pairing instructions, and I'm unsure if I'm looking at the right instructions, VoiceOver is not finding the display with Blue Tooth turned on. The display is not plugged into the wall. It is hooked to my computer via USB. I have made sure that my PC screen readers are using USB. The display is not paired with the computer via Blue Tooth.