Braille Displays and iOS: combining both for the optimum user experience

Braille on Apple Products

Hi all,
So I have a question that I'm hoping you can answer. It's not a technical braille question, rather a lifestyle one.
I am one of those people who is constantly on the go, and always trying to keep moving and in general being engaged with life. I just received from the state a braille display, which I requested for help with my economics homework, of which it has been really successful. What I can't figure out, however, is how to integrate it into my personal life outside of school. My IOS world has always consisted of a iPhone and headphones that's it. Usually I use IOS for quick checks of things. So here's the question: for those who are busy and active, how has your braille display enhanced your IOS experience?



Submitted by Eileen on Saturday, May 14, 2016

I use my IPONE for quick personal tasks. I use my computer and braille display for hours of intensive tasks. I have 'all 3 with me most of the time. For me connecting the braille display is only worth it if I have serious work to do. braille always improves the experience. I can't wait until they come up with effective tactile touch screens. Then braille should become a quick convenient option.

Submitted by Jalys Ortiz on Sunday, May 15, 2016

I was given a Braille Sense when I was in my senior year of high school, and often use it to type messages/emails when I'm on the go. With that said, depending on how big your Braille display is, there are certain situations where it just isn't very convenient, such as when you're standing in line or something--you can't exactly pull out a Braille display then and there (unless you have a shoulder strap, but technicalities aside). My Braille Sense was sent off to Hims to have some of the keys fixed after nearly three and a half years of usage. Without it, I've realized how much I depended on it to assist me in typing faster and more efficiently. I've begun to pick up on Braille Screen input as a result, and like it in addition to my display.
I hope this helped! :) If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask!

Submitted by Amber on Sunday, May 15, 2016

Mainly, I use my Braille display in the car. I like to read Twitter and books and messages etc. while I'm in the car, so I can hear the conversations around me but still interact with my phone. Also, I like to use it when I'm waiting on something In public. I go to doctor's appointments with family members a lot, and while I'm waiting for them, I pull out my Braille display and read books or Twitter or something. Sometimes, also, if I'm in the same room with my boyfriend while he's playing video games or something like that, but I want to hear him if he's talking to me, I'll read books on my braille display. Pretty much, if there's a situation where I want to hear something other than voiceover, but still use my phone, I use my display for it. If I want to listen to a new album that came out, but read a book at the same time, on the same device, I have my headphones plugged in but I'm reading the book on the braille display while the music plays. Hopefully you can get used to it and integrate it into your life easily. Start by doing things you would normally use voiceover for, but use your braille display instead. Checking facebook, reading and responding to messages, especially if it's a relatively small one, and especially, like someone previously said, you have a shoulder strap. That makes a world of difference too.

Submitted by TJT 2001 on Sunday, May 15, 2016

I personally do not take my braille display with me. I prefer displays with more cells for the simple reason that you can see more on one line. I think that if you wanted to get out more with a braille device, one with twenty cells or less would probably be better as it is smaller. As your braille display is for school, you should try and have one that is larger for completing your homework.

Submitted by Thomas Byskov … on Sunday, May 15, 2016


I have not used a braille display since last summer, and I have noticed how much it affected me on a daily basis. I used the braille device for everything on my phone, almost. I loved the ability to listen and take part in a conversation while reading anything on my phone via the display.

My girlfriend told me earlier this year, that she had noticed a huge difference since I stopped using braille. She mentioned that I am harder to talk to if I am writing something down like a list of items to buy in nearby stores or some notes for our calendar. Thanks to apps like MBraille I have kept my braille typing skills up to speed, but I really miss to read braille with my fingers instead of listening to speech all the time. There is absolutely nothing wrong with listening to speech, but I rather read braille all day rather than listening to speech.

Just my random thoughts.

Submitted by Scott Davert on Monday, May 16, 2016

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

I use it while tracking routes on a bus, to send off text messages really quickly, to read emails while on the go and respond accordingly, to read Newsline on airplane trips, and whenever I do not want to disturb anyone with VoiceOver. I would say that 90% of everything you can do with VO, you can also achieve with braille. And if your braille typing/reading is fast enough, it's more efficient than listening to speech under many circumstances.

Submitted by Deborah Armstrong on Friday, May 20, 2016

I use a VarioUltra mostly on long paratransit rides where the wheel-chair accessible van is so noisy jangling down the highway that it's almost impossible to accurately hear VO. I can hear well enough to tell where I am but not for accuracy.
I had a lot of trouble learning to type accurately on a Braille display also. To master this skill, I played text adventure games. Games are fun, because who cares if you make errors, whereas if you try to type something serious, like homework, job-related stuff or email, it's stressful when you keep making mistakes.
I find memorizing all those chord commands annoying so I started memorizing a new one each day, writing them down and reviewing the seven new ones each week. That made me far more proficient without it taking up too much time. Just write down one command per note in the notes app.
If I do anything primarily with speech, I notice my spelling really suffers. I am in an online history class now with lots of names and places. Because I used the Braille display and iPHONE for most of my studying, I automatically spelled all the proper names correctly when I had to write essays under time pressure. In classes where I've only used speech I wasted minutes looking up the spelling for so many things, even cheating on a closed-book exam once just because I did not want to spell a name wrong!
Braille also lets me participate at events better with the sighted. I was able to be a fill-in last-minute race announcer for a tournament last year, because the organizer could email the schedule to my phone and using Braille I could read it out loud. Sighted people said it was too bright to see their phones, and their printouts kept blowing away!
In ham radio emergency communications drills, a Braille display lets me read and transmit messages in the field. I often look at the agenda in Braille while listening in an important meeting, peruse class handouts in a class or check a restaurant menu while in the restaurant with friends while we chat.