I'm getting a Refreshabraille to use with my iPhone!

Braille on Apple Products
So I just purchased a Refreshabraille for my iPhone and I'm very excited! Anyone else use a refreshabraille? What has been your experience with it? How's the battery life? Is it fairly light and portable?



Submitted by Scott Davert on Monday, September 12, 2011

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team
Yes, the RB is very light and you get about 2025 hours of use before having to recharge. However, when you run bluetooth, this drains the iPhone's battery. I will say that it's an excellent option for silent browsing, as yo u can turn off the speech and just use the iPhone with the RB itself. if you have Verizon, however, there is one major draw-back. Each time you disconnect the RB, you will have to manually go in and pair it with the iPhone again. Even though the Verizon iOS 4 will automatically reconnect to bluetooth devices, it does not do so with braille displays. I've tested this with the RB, the Focus 40 Blue, and the Apex. The good news is that this issue is solved with iOS 5, which will hopefully be released soon. Hope this info helps, Scott

Submitted by Brandi on Monday, September 12, 2011

In reply to by Scott Davert

Well, the RB is on back order so I wasn't able to get it yet. Thanks for the advice. I am fortunate that I have ATandT so I do not face those issues with bluetooth displays. I've used my husband's BrailleSense On-Hand so I have some experience with a Braille display and I love it. I am not a speech user so Braille is very important to me.

Submitted by Scott Davert on Monday, September 12, 2011

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

In reply to by Brandi

I'm not a regular user of the speech either, so I understand what you mean. The only other advice I can give is to turn bluetooth off when you're not using it. If you plan to use it all the time, like I do, I'd suggest picking up a case that includes an external battery pack such as the Mophie Juce airpack. It increased my usage from about 8 hours with bluetooth constantly, to about 20.

Submitted by Katie Frederick on Wednesday, October 19, 2011

In reply to by Scott Davert

Hi. I'm looking at getting an iPhone 4S and RefreshaBraille to use on Verizon's network. From your comment, am I to understand correctly one can have VO turned off, yet still be able to control the phone with the Braille display? What about typing? May that be done in contracted and/or uncontracted (grade 1 or 2), Braille? And, finally, the case you recommended, could you perhaps explain, and/or point me to more resources about it for the 4S? Sorry for all my questions; I just discovered this site, so hope to learn much more as time goes on.

Submitted by Scott Davert on Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

In reply to by Katie Frederick

Hello katie, and welcome to Applevis! I hope you find plenty of useful info here and am glad you're being an active memver. (smiles). Regarding your questions: the answer to the first one is no. You can not turn off Voiceover completely, as Voiceover is what drives the braille display. You can, however, mute speech and then do most of the things you would need to do with the joystick on the refreshabraille to navigate around the screen. Mute speech by double tapping the screen with 3 fingers, or by pressing space with M on the refreshabraille's keyboard. This is a toggle setting, meaning that you can do either of these 2 things again to turn speech back on. Yes, you can do input in either grade I or grade II braille. This is also a toggle which you can change on the fly. This is done with the command space with G. The display will then specify whether contractions are on or off. Finally, a note about typing in contracted (grade II) braille. you may think that there is a lag between the time when you type and the time when the inputted text is shown on the display itself. There actually is no delay on the part of the device, its just giving you a second to type something further so that it knows how to interpret what you've just typed. The other thing to know is that the braille translator found in iOS translates on the fly, and won't take in to account the text around it. For example, if you forgot to make a word plural, when you add the letter s on to the end of it, you'll actually get the letters s and o. There are 2 ways to work around this. You can either turn off contracted braile with the command provided above, or you can backspace the o out with space and dot 7. Best of luck, Scott

Submitted by John Farina on Friday, October 21, 2011

Hi, The RefreshaBraille works very well with the iphone. It is especially better after the newest upgrade to ios version 5. Reading is rather smooth and working in mail, notes and a variety of applications is rather easy. I am looking for something to read the web braille books on the ios device if there is any application for that.

Hi all, I use a Ipad 2 with the handytech easy braille. A great experience. I only have two minor questions. 1. I am not able to type certain symbols, like the @ or if 8 dot braille is enabled i am not albe to type numbers using the braille device. it seems the braille input translation table differs from the output table. do you have any experiences with this? 2. it is not possible to scroll the braille line with tjust a press of the space bar of the device, i have to use the dot 5 in combination with the space bar to scroll the line. unfortunattly the speed reading is reduced due to this key combination. do you have the same experiences with other braille devices? cheers,

Submitted by John Farina on Tuesday, October 25, 2011

In reply to by Scott Davert

Hi Scott and others, Yes, the pairing issue has been solved with the Verizon version of ios 5. I have used the refreshabraille successfully to take notes at meetings and send texts, then paired it with the Ipad to do other things. Bacak and forth is really cool now as it picks up the display easily.

Submitted by moutonblind on Tuesday, October 25, 2011

In reply to by moutonblind

Hi all, I found the cause of the problem I got with typing via the braille display. this problem does not accur if I switch the language setting to English instead of dutch. Apperently the dutch translation tables contain a bug. I already reported this to aplle by mail. Hopefully this bug will be solved within the next update of ios. cheers,

Submitted by Brandi on Wednesday, October 26, 2011

In reply to by Katie Frederick

If memory serves me correctly, I think you can get a case from Executive Products. You may also want to try APH as they are the ones who make the Refreshabraille. I am probably going to order my unit within the next month or so, and I may purchase a case for it as I like to take my stuff everywhere I go.

Submitted by Scott Davert on Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

In reply to by Scott Davert

I don't think Executive Products makes a case for the RB, but APH does. It costs $32, and comes with a belt clip. There are hooks for a strap, but no strap is included. I love the RB with the iPhone, it's like having a note taker, but one that's compatible with many more mainstream applications.

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