Braille Displays and iPhone

Braille on Apple Products

Hi all,
My school has just bought a Refreshabraille to use with my iPad, but I've heard a lot of bad things about it and want to get one for home. I need a small braille display (no notetaking capabilities built in), that can be paired with my iPhone and iPad. Also what are your experiences with the Refreshabraille? Thanks all.



Submitted by Jim D on Friday, July 25, 2014

I have used the RefreshaBraille for my job. My biggest problem with it is connecting a cable for charging. The usb charging port, located on the under side of the unit, is not always easy to connect a cable to. Other than that, the RefreshaBraille works ok with an iPhone/iPad. The little joystick takes some getting used to, but once you do, it is very doable. Personally, I prefer more than eighteen cells of Braille, so I generally use the BrailleEdge from HIMS with my iOS devices. The Edge has forty cells of Braille, but I find it very easy to carry around on the go.
I've also used the Perkins Mini with a iPad. It is a nice little portable display that works well.
Hope this helps.

Submitted by Kerby on Friday, July 25, 2014

I have a refreshabraille and I love it. I use it with my iPhone and it works great. The only thing I don't like about it as the previous poster said is the location of the usb port. For me personally, 18 cells is fine because I don't want to carry around a 40 cell display if I'm out somewhere since that won't fit in a pocket like the refreshabraille will.

Submitted by Kayla Cole on Saturday, July 26, 2014

Thank you all. How long have you used your Refreshabraille? My friend has a Refreshabraille though and she says she's went through three in less than two years. That really worries me...I can't be replacing a $1700 piece of equipment every time I turn around! I am looking for a small braille display as well I may b able to use at home when my school does not allow me to bring my Refreshabraille home I have also heard some really good things about Freedom Scientific with the new Focus 14 Blue. That is really what I am considering getting and I am wondering if it's worth buying, as I had a PacMate and that turned out to be a really bad decision for someone who uses modern-day technology... Then it broke soon after I got it! Also, does the Refreshabraille have cursor routing keys? I think that the cursor routing keys are one of the most important features of a braille display. Thhanks again.

Hello …

I have had the Refresherbraille for less than a month. And, now that I figured out how to plug in the cable :-) , there really is NOTHING I could complain about.
- It's very portable, and fits into your handbag/purse.
- It is quite light (I'd say).
- It has cursor routing keys.
- The joystick makes navigating and selecting items extremely fast, easy and convenient.
- The battery life is good, about 20 hours or more, I'd say.
The braille feels nice.
Typing is easy.
18 cells are just enough.
So, I can only agree with what has been said here: I too really like the RB!

But how does one plug in that cable now? I figured it out! A sighted friend 'devised a good strategy'.
I've tried to explain what I mean before, in another thread, so sorry for boring you if you've read it already. It's really difficult to describe, but let me try:
As has been mentioned, there's a 'cavity' on the underside of the device, and the port is at the end of it. So one cannot plug in the cable as one normally would because the 'cavity' is so narrow.
OK, 'step by step' (perhaps I'll be more successful trying to describe it that way):
1. One must hold the cable in one hand (if one is right-handed, probably the right), between two/three fingers or something,
2. - (I don't know if it's the same everywhere, but with the cable I got, the side where the 'smooth dent' is should face 'downwards', I mean, if the display was lying on a table, towards the table) -
3. then push it into the 'cavity', approximately in the location of the port.
4. With the other hand, one must feel for the port to find out whether one is pushing in the right place.
5. One can feel with the hand one uses to feel for the port whether the cable is in the right position, or whether it's too high or too low.
6. When one feels/'estimates' that the cable is in the right position, one must press harder with the hand holding the cable.
7. One feels when it slips into the port, and the display will say 'Charging...'

I'm guessing that this didn't make much sense. But if it did, and I was able to describe what I mean, you will find that this really does work. I promise :-) !

And I must say it really surprises me to hear that your friend broke THREE displays in such a short time! From what I've heard, even if you drop the RB, it wouldn't break immediately. I have NEVER heard that the RB breaks particularly easily. As far as I know, the contrary seems to be the case, I've also read some posts somewhere here that seem to confirm this. So I don't think you need worry about that.

So if 18 cells is enough for you, and you want a display that fits into your purse, I'd say the RB is a good choice. But please – whatever display you decide to get – get a case for it! This way, it should last longer.

Sorry for this long post! I wasn't 'advertising' or anything (I'd NEVER do that, even if I was paid for it :-) ), just trying to be a bit helpful!

Submitted by Scott Davert on Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Hi Kayla.
Yes, the Refreshabraille does have cursor routing keys. My biggest issue with the Focus 14 is that it is a fragile device, more so than an old person's bones. I've been working heavily with all different displays for the past nearly 4 years, and of all the displays I've used with consumers and myself, the Focus 14 has been sent in for repairs more than any other braille device. I had a Refreshabraille 18 for over 3 years, and had no issues with it breaking. That said, as others have mentioned, the USB port on the bottom was a great idea in theory, but a craptastic one in application. The other thing I do not care for about the Refreshabraille is that once the battery gets down to 1 third of its life, you get these really annoying battery low messages that pop up for 10 to 15 seconds and will not go away. Yet, you can still use the display for a few hours after that message appears. APH, the distributors of the RB here in the US, have said they will release a firmware fix for this to address the issue, but I'm not sure whether that has happened or not. The Perkins mini is worth considering, though it does have those notetaking functions that you said you did not want. Also, I don't like the keyboard on that thing, and a few other things about it. If you search for the perkins mini on Applevis, you'll find my review on the product. That said, what I prefer may be totally different from what best suits you, so it could be worth a look.

Submitted by Siobhan on Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Hi. I had a chance to test this display and instead of the keys beinf right across, this had an irgonomic, sorry for pselling that, way so your hands were slightly positioned out to the side. The twenty cell i saw was fabulous, and it comes in I think 32 and 40 options. I think it's around 2000 for this, not hte mini problem. As of July 1, it hadn't been aproved by apple yet. Except the rep told me they were shipping them to Apple that next weekt o ensure it was working with Mac and IOS devices. So unless you need it right htis minute, I'd test those. the site is, Wonderful experience I had.

Submitted by Siobhan on Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Hi. I was miss informed. here's the right link. What i sent you to is something with flash, that scared the ever living heck out of me. Heck, being as polite as I can manage. :) here it is.

Actually, the correct site for those in the US is
I played around quite extensively with this display this past weekend. It's quite impressive, and there will be 20 and 40 cell models available. They're taking pre-orders now, but I'd suggest waiting if you're someone looking for reliability and are not one of these early adopters of technology. This notetaker/display has 32 GB of internal storage, supports the reading of PDF and Excell files, and has a lot of other features. The 20 cell model will cell for $2300 or so. As you asked about smaller displays, I will not bother elaborating on the 40-cell model. The VarioUltra actually is very solidly built like the Refreshabraille, which is also a product made by Baum that APH just slaps their name on to and sells here in the US. The keys do take a bit of getting used to, but within about 20 mins of my sitting down to play around with it, I was typing with very few typos. Also, unlike the Refreshabraille, it has a micro USB port on the side which means no more stupid Mini USB plug on the bottom! All that said, I know you were looking for simply a display, but it may be worth considering in the future if you'd like all these other features.