Looking for a new braille display

Club AppleVis Member
Braille on Apple Products

Hi everyone, i am looking for a new braille display. I am use for reading and writeing on my iPhone. I have the VarioUltra braille display. Because the status of Visio Braille company witch is unknown i thinking saleing now or stay my braille display? I thot about Focus Braille display 5 gen from VFo Company. What do you think about this? For somebody have this braille display? how's braille display works with ios devices?2



Submitted by Travis Roth on Saturday, May 11, 2019

Hello, You will find quite a bit of information on Applevis about various Braille displays if you search for a model. For example, here is a review and discussion of the Focus 14 Blue, although this is several years old and is not about the newest (as of 2019) 5th gen model. I've not used the 5th gen to compare, however, I would venture a guess that it is quite similar to previous models, especially for command structure. I'd love to know how the Braille dots compare to previous models, but this is often a matter of opinion. The link:

There are many other options too. For example, try a search for actilino. Humanware has a new 14 cell model out too, although I am not sure if anyone has reviewed it on Applevis yet.

Submitted by Matthew Whitaker on Sunday, May 12, 2019

Hi I think a good display to check out is the Humanware Brilliant BI14. I recently had a chance to test it out with my phone and its amazing. Its not that expensive. :-)
Check it out.

Submitted by Eileen on Monday, May 13, 2019

The Focus 40 Blue 5th gen display is very nice. on a par with the Brailliant BI 40. . Of course the 5th gen comes with the ability to read only dot brf files. The note taking ability is basic. If you write in braille you have to push the contents of the file to an open file on a device with a screen reader that can translate the braille as the file copies from the display to the receiving device. I have only transferred files on my windows PC. I rarely connect it to my iPhone.

If you like editting on an IOS device, the display does work well with the iPhone. I have several test devices and the display switches between them well. I mostly use my display with usb connected to JAWS.

The braille is more rounded and comfortable and firmer to me than the Focus 40 Blue and Pacmate displays. The braille is very clear, firm, and quiet. The braille keys don't make any more noise than my USB full sized keyboard. All the keys are either push or rocker style no more unpredictable wiz wheels.

The display has protective handles that stick out of the ends of the display. The case has to stick out just as far. So turning the device on requires some digging around to find an push the power button. Likewise, connecting the USB cable is easy but with the case on, the usb port is about three quarters of an inch down in the case. The usb chord that comes with the display is up to the task and connects easily enough.

The display has a high tech look overall.

I am using the display to write this comment. I notice that Apple has fixed many issues with hardware braille input. But as I was making corrections in the middle of the document. The corrected word reads correctly, but if I add multiple words the speech is reading the word following my cursor not the word in front of my cursor. Hopefully this glitch will get fixed.
The case that came with my display is very nice with quiet magnetic closures. It feels like some sort of plastic but it looks professional.

over all I like it much better than I thought I would when my work purchased the Focus 40 5th gen for me.

Submitted by Eileen on Monday, May 13, 2019

I also have the Orbit Reader 20. If you can afford a high end braille display you are better off. THIS new technology needs improvements. However, for the price, this display offers 20 cells of braille for reading and taking quick notes. If you write a note in grade 2 you will need braille translation software to use the file contents on the PC.

There are no routing cursors so all editting has to be navigated using the IOS key board commands. The keys are small circles not the long ovals typical for braille keys. The dots come up more slowly than the high end displays. The display makes a rapid clicking sound. The braille is tall and easy to read when the dots go up and down properly. Sadly, the dots aren't consistently reliable on my display. I was told by customer service that I shouldn't touch the display while the braille comes up. This is laughable.

Still if you are on a very tight budget, the Orbit Reader 20 is better than no braille at all.

The device automatically exercises the braille cells daily. I'm not sure what will happen to the dots if this happens when the device is crammed into a backpack. It is certainly small enough and light enough to carry around.

I am writing this review on the Orbit Reader 20. It has the same Voice Over issue mentioned in the previous review. Aasdaa

Submitted by Scott Davert on Monday, May 13, 2019

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Hello. Like you, I'm disappointed that Visio Braille has not moved forward any further. The VarioUltra was a wonderful device and I was hoping they would pikc up where Baum had left off. The Focus 5th Generation does have the ability to edit and create basic notes, as noted above, and can also now modify text files. This still does not appear to be an option for brf content. I've found the 40 to be quite reliable, I'm also writing this post with it, and it is a very nice design. One good thing about this display over the VarioUltra is the battery life. I get around 12-15 hours of usage with 2 different connections going at most times with the Focus 40, the 14 has a similar battery life. Downsides of the Focus are the spacebar. I have had 4 of these displays in the last year, 3 of the 4 have now been returned because the spacebar has weakened and no longer springs up when pressed. The upside, in the US at least, is that VFO gave me a replacement without charging me since the display was still under warranty. I found that exporting notes to iOS devices doesn't work very well at all, but this is a fault of Apple, not the fault of VFO. If you want a more in-depth review, please see this Access World review

HTH, Scott

Submitted by Lielle ben simon on Monday, May 13, 2019

Club AppleVis Member

In reply to by Scott Davert

Hello Scott, i like my Braille Display, but i dוֹoסןְט think that it's does stay with device that wasn't Developed׃ i think that for braille display has a lot potential but apple's change the rools of game all the time, and today it's was hard connect to ios, tomorow it will be to type in braille, i am interesteing in Polaris Braille Display from Hims. I can't kno what will be in the future but i heared that VisioBraille work about developing of software to VarioUltra i kno that VarioUltra produceing by VisioBraille but the software dosn't ready. the development team work on this. i hope that VarioUltra will be developing and the software moove to Android to expand the Capabylitys off this device.

Submitted by Josh Kennedy on Tuesday, August 6, 2019

How about the braille me by Innovision, or the orbit reader20 from orbitresearch.com ... the braille me can be bought from www.atguys.com

Submitted by Matthew Whitaker on Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Have you checked out any of Humanware's displays? The Brilliant BI14 is really good... especially if you are looking for a device that's really light weight.

Submitted by Travis Roth on Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Has anyone seen more than one of the newer displays such as the Focus 14 Blue 5th Gen and Brilliant Bi14 and any other top quality ones, and can give a general impression of their size? For example, my own experience is the Handy Tech Actilino is pretty large for a portable display, long, wide and quite thick so it is hard to stuff in a pants pocket. The original Focus 14 from around 7 years ago is significantly smaller. I'd like to know what the smallest most pocket friendly display is in the current generation of products. From reading the specs my impression of the Focus 14 5th gen is it has gotten quite a bit longer than previous models although I am not positive...

Submitted by Josh Kennedy on Wednesday, August 7, 2019

In reply to by Travis Roth

My orbit reader20 can fit in a jacket pocket. When in the case, I hardly even know it is there when I carry it in the case using the shoulder strap. It is a very lightweight display. Not sure about the new generation braill me with its greatly improved hardware, as I do not own one yet, but plan to within 4 or 5 months.

Submitted by Fatima.Hamoud10 on Thursday, August 8, 2019

I recommend the Focus 40 Blue Braille display from Freedom Scientific. It works very well with Windows 10 and JAWS 2019. I am still keeping my HumanWare Brailliant 40 display to use with my iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. The very strange thing is that my HumanWare Brailliant 40 display still works with Narrator on Windows 10 even though HumanWare stopped supporting this Braille display a long time ago. I actually played with a Focus 40 Blue when I did my assessment for a new Braille display with a technology specialist. It's a good thing that this display was available on the ADP (Assistive Devices Program) list for authorization. I heard that the Focus 40 Blue can pair up to 5 Bluetooth devices plus 1 USB connection which of course will be connecting the Focus 40 Blue to my computer using a USB cable. Now I can have fun with my new braille display when I receive it:)