Feature Writer Alena Roberts – Bring on the Braille

If anyone hasn’t figured it out by now, I’m a technology junky. This week I added another piece of technology to my collection and I’m so excited about it. Some of the courses I’m taking in my masters program require that I have a Braille display to submit my assignments, because a screen reader isn’t able to read Braille code in a way that makes sense. So now I’m a proud owner of a Brailliant 32.

I have been watching Braille displays change over the years wishing and hoping that someday I would need one. I had no idea though how small, light-weight, and attractive my Braille display would be. When I took it out of the box I was both impressed and overwhelmed. There were so many buttons and I had no idea what any of them did. The display came with a companion CD, but what I didn’t know is that none of the documentation was for the Mac or iOS. Since I didn’t know that the drivers were already installed on my Mac, I figured I would plug it in and see what happened. Magically, Braille appeared on the display and started displaying what my VoiceOver curser was reading.

I then found the Braille menu in the VoiceOver utility and made some changes to how the Braille would appear. I specifically turned off the feature that used the 7th and 8th cells as the curser. I am a slow Braille reader as it is, and adding more cells was just confusing. Next, I just needed to figure out how to use the display to read.

Since the user manual was woefully useless to me, I asked my friends on Twitter. They came back with some helpful suggestions and I’m happy to say that I don’t know much, but I do know how to read text. I also downloaded a book from Bookshare, opened it on my computer in my web browser, and am reading the text with my Braille display just fine.

One of my goals is to use the display to read for pleasure and increase my Braille reading speed. I like having a full page of text, but the Braille display gives me access to thousands of books that I otherwise couldn’t get in Braille.

What are your experiences using Braille displays? When do you think companies will start including documentation for us Mac and iOS users?

Comments are closed.