Opening brf files on iDevices, a limited solution.

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

For some time now, users of braille displays have wantted to be able to read brf files from various sources such as the NLS Web Braille collection, Bookshare, and other sources around the world. I'm here to tell you that it's possible to do so using the following steps, but you'll still be very limited in the way in which you can navigate through content. For example, there is no way to bookmark a place in your file, and since iOS does not have a find function, you can't get there quickly through that manor either. However, for reading shorter documents in brf format, this does work.
First, you must have Dropbox installed on your iPhone, and you must get the source material ahead of time. When you have done so, put the brf file in to your Dropbox folder that you share with your iDevice, and then rename it to a .txt file instead of brf. Then, open Dropbox on your phone, and open the file. Turning off contractions with a G-Chord on your braille device will allow you to read the content in contracted braille. It will not work with speech or with vision, but if you really want to read a brf file, this is an option. Now understanding this, and noting that the AFB app may also have access to dropbox, if this app does have a find function available, it would make it a powerful book reading solution for those wishing to get their books in BRF format.



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creating an app?

I have been studying iPhone app development, and a very good friend already develops IOS apps. I am wondering whether people would like a program that actually processes these BRF files and can read them, display them on braille displays, etc. If people seem to think it is a good idea, then to text edit I go. Otherwise, I will continue to use my copy of dbt to debraillify whatever brf files I encounter.

Yes, and app for this would

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Yes, and app for this would be great! A simple brf to txt converter would be nice, though I'm not sure how something like that would work on the iOS platform.


Reading long BRF's is one of the four or so things that haven't moved from my BrailleNote to my iPhone. I still read books and files others produce. The most important features I see in an app like this would be:

find, for searching for text

move by paragraph; smaller than a page, but larger than a line.

Maybe? Ability to edit if a Braille keyboard is connected. I know this one would be hard, but am all the fan of reading on the display any text, regardless of whether a notetaker understands it. Nemeth, cough.

the app

Looks like it would be useful. I would probably link it to dropbox or something. For editing, I have two possibilities. Firstly, I could try to put a forward-translator in, or what we could do is turn off grade2 on the braille display and enter the customized characters, then have the back-translater go again. Nemeth would be nearly impossible (I am virtually fluent in it, but just can't see any database of braille signs containing the requisite information to get nemeth correct). Nevertheless, when I go looking for resources, I will keep nemeth up there on the list of suggestions.

Reading .brf files as HTML

When reading .brf files as text file, I cannot navigate line by line or page by page. So, I wrote a Windows script to add HTML h1 and p tags to .brf files that I can navigate page with rotor heading, up/down swipe, and line, left/right swipe with one finger. If anyone interested, I can send you the script.


Yes. Please send me the script. Does it let you move by sentences? You can use the roter to move by words or one letter at a time, but you can't move by sentences and I do not like that.

what if we don't have a braile display?

Hi, there is a book that I have been dying to read that is only available in BRF format. I can't find it on iBooks or Kindle or Bookshare or any other ebook format. It's either BRF or scan the thing myself with my phone as I don't have a proper scanning and reading tool for long projects. This book is huge. Is there anything at all available anywhere that will let me back translate this BRF file that doesn't involve spending a month's income? I've been looking everywhere. Any info would be most appreciated

Easier yet

If you have the BARD Mobile app, just do an open in to that with any brf document. It will appear under Braille Books when you do, and you can save your place and navigate like a BARD Braille book. No need for Dropbox jiggering; why is it that everyone thinks Dropbox is the only way to do things? Caveat though: this only works with a Braille display. I'm surprised apps like Voice Dream don't have the ability to backtranslate brf files to speech yet.

Zip the file

The Bard Mobile app requires files to be zipped in order to recognize them. Zip the BRF and then open it in BARD Mobile. It will appear in the list of Vraille books and may have an odd name. Arrange by latest end it will appear at the top of the list.