Some questions about braille displays

Braille on Apple Products
Hello everyone, I would like to ask your some questions about braille displays. I am considering buying a braille display. In fact, I have no money to buy one, thats why a friend of mine is raising money in other ways, as it coasts thousands of dollars. And here comes my first question, in which country do you live, how you as a student buy a braille display? This question might be stupid, I don't know. But I would like to know if you receive some kind of government incentive, or what? As I don't have the possibility to touch one before buying, I need to investigate very well the caracteristics. As I am a programmer, I would like to buy a braille display that helps me in my activities, but also I would like one that I could use with my iPhone. Nowadays, I have been using nvda on windows, voiceoveron OS X and iOs, so it would be important to be compatible with all those screen readers. Could someone point me directions, suggestions to clarify that? Thank you very much.



Submitted by Scott Davert on Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team
The cheepest device that I know of that will most likely accomplish what you need is the Braille Pen which retails for $900 US. It has a keyboard, 12 cell braille display, and is compatible with all the above mentioned devices. Its only 12 cells, which is a bit limiting, but if you're in a tight spot financially, you may have to go with a smaller display. This would be the one.

Submitted by Eileen on Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Anyone who has experience with the braille pen I loved to hear about it. There's a podcast on blind cool tech for the refreshabraille 18. I found the Focus Blue to be huge with buttons all over the top so didn't get it when I had the chance. I felt it would be impossible to get a regular keyboard for programming anywhere near the braille display. I turned down the Seika because it had just enough lag in coding to be annoying. You can tryout the Seika for $50 plus shipping and Perkins will mail it to you for a trial week. The braille connect has a similar layout to the seika but I believe it was quite responsive in testing. The pacmate won't work with the iphone. However, since you are a programmer and may need more cells. There are a lot of used pacmate 40 cell displays for cheaper prices. I bought One like new from FreedomScientific's own referbished equipment page. Blind Bargains seems to get quite a few older non-bluetooth used braille displays in their classified list as well. Now that I have a display for work I'm also in the search for a not so expensive braille display for my IPhone. I'm hoping others will post as there doesn't seem to be many reviews on bluetooth braille displays out there.

Submitted by Eileen on Sunday, October 23, 2011

Try contacting the company for sellers in your area. If a seller is close enough he/she will come to your home or place of work to demo the display for you. Here in the states agencies for the blind will assist with the purchase of special equipment if the blind individuall has a qualifying situation such as a new job or entering into a program of study leading to gainful employment.

Hi Eoileen and others, I have one of the Braille Pen 12 cell displays. At this point it will be going back fro a repair but that is my fault and no fault of the unit. It is very small and works rather weel although the battery time is shorter than the Refheshabrialle I also have. As an assistive technology instructor I decided to get the Braille Pen after having the Refreshabrille in order to have a couple displays to show folks. In addition to the agencies for the blind purchasing equipment, many states here in the United States have equipment loan funds where by people can qualify for low interest loans to purchase equipment as long as the equipment will benefit them in their life.

Submitted by Katie Frederick on Monday, October 24, 2011

Hi, Aside from the price and smaller cell difference, what are some other differences, positive or negative, you see between these two displays? I'm really thinking a 12-cell display is just too small for me, but if I'm going to spend this kind of money, I also want to get something to meet as many of my needs/characteristics as possible. I too had the opportunity to see a Focus Blue, and was not impressed with that unit. I also know there are several options out there for Braille displays, so, am just trying to do all the research I can before buying. thanks!

Hi, I have not used either display, but I do have a bn Apex which I use as a display for iOS a lot. One feature you will want to watch for is the touch cursor, where a button over each cell can route the cursor to that cell. This is, to me, an indispensable feature and is one reason I would not go for the Braille Pen, despite its low price. I know that Humanware's displays come with touch cursors, and I believe they sell a 12-cell, 20, 32, and 40, all of which should work with all the screen readers the original poster is looking for. I am not endorsing hw over other companies, I just am pretty sure they all include touch cursor buttons and I feel that, as a programmer, a way to jump to a particular cell will be very important..

The proceeding poster brings up one of the other key differences between the Braille Pen and the Refreshabraille. The Braille Pen does not have cursor routing buttons, whereas, the Refreshabraille does. I know the Refreshabraille is compatible with all the stuff you had originally mentioned, and I think, but can't verify for a fact, that the Braille Pen is as well. I have not had enough time with a Braille Pen to really review it fairly, but here are a couple things I don't like about the Refreshabraille. 1. The USB connector design. This is the one and only flaw in the design of the display in terms of hardware. The plug was designed so that if someone stepped on a USB bord while it is plugged in, the cable will not be pulled out by accident. However, this also makes the USB cable hard to plug in. Since this is the only means by which the RB can be charged, you have to use it. The work around I've used is to keep a very short USB cord, the short one that comes with the display works fine, connected at all times to the display. I then put the cord in back of the display when it's in its case. I've had the display like this for several months, and it works fine. If you want a longer USB cord, purchase a USB extention cord from your local electronics shop. 2. This is a firmware issue that they will hopefully remedy soon. I, and a few others, have brought this issue forth to APH. When the battery low message flashes up, which it does with 3 hours or more of battery life remaining, it stays there for 15 seconds, no matter what you do to the display. However, if you're typing or scrolling through something, the display still does whatever command you ask it to, even though the changes will not show on the display until that stupid battery low message goes away. Other than those 2 issues, I think it's a solid display. Works great with NVDA, VoiceOver on both the iPhone and Macbook, and also with JAWS. I hope this info is somehow helpful and wish you luck in your hunt for a braille display!

Yay for the braille Pen being a Polish display... yay. Now getting serious, I don't think you'd want a BP, because first the sell size and no cursor routing, but also it doesn't have a NVDA driver which could be a problem. If you go for the refreshabraille, any of the humanware displays or the alva bc 640/680, those are the ones I know definitely work with NVDA and the apple stuff.

Submitted by Sof on Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Hello, You should look at Eurobraille product the esys serie is compatible iOS / Mac OS/JAWS/NVDA and has built-in routing cursors. I personally own an Esys 12 and I'm definitely satisfied with it. I don't know if those products are distributed in the US but you can try to contact Eurobraille directly for any inquiry. If 12 cells is not enough they have 24, 40, 64 and even 80-cell displays. Those models also feature agenda, calculator and a basic text editor, and they have built-in braille (perkins) keyboard. HTH, Sof