Bristol Braille Technology


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RE[8]: Experiences with Braille

Chris Norman

I learned braille at school because it was assumed that I would be working in that medium most often.

I stopped using braille once I'd left school, except on the thankfully rare occasions that I had to install Fedora, which at the time could be done very easily with braille. I can honestly say I only started using it again thanks to windows 7, and one of its delightful bug's, which means my audio services don't get loaded sometimes when I start windows. Before I found a mercifully quick way to restore these settings, I used my braille display to run through the trouble shooter.

I now volunteer at a place where I answer phones, and I use my laptop muted, with braille, to take notes on calls. Interestingly, at the same time, I started coding, initially a game, and now a website. I find using braille for both these tasks pretty invaluable.

My main problem with the displays on the market now is their price. They are horribly expensive, and I certainly couldn't afford to replace mine if it broke tomorrow.

With regards to fixing computers, both me and my girlfriend use Mac computers, which boast amazing accessibility. I could do all the stuff the man with Vinux talked about with my Mac, using VoiceOver, and braille, so I do not agree that no other operating system is capable of that level off accessibility, because OS X has Vinux beat for accessibility, and it has the advantage of not relying on 2 year old software. This is by no means a slight against Vinux, which I like a lot, and I have nothing but respect for the folks who got it working so well. My only gripe is that it's another specialist solution, like a BrailleNote, or any other product which is built specifically for the blind, where other options are available. This is chiefly why I gravitated towards apple. I can use the same tools and software as others, just with an accessibility layer on top.

Seeing an ebook reader, like the one proposed would be amazing, even for someone like me who doesn't really like braille all that much. I would love to reread books like lord of the rings, but getting the physical books is really out of the question. If it were to work something like the Linux command less, I would be a very happy man.

Also, you can't go wrong with a device that has Linux driving it, especially if you make all your drivers etc available to the community, to avoid my problem with Vinux. I personally wouldn't want my ebook reader running 5 year old software.

If I could then use that, with some kind of qwerty input, then such a device would help me greatly when answering the phones at my volunteering, even if the braille was laggy.

I hope all this makes sense, I'm writing it all on an iPad, so the work flow is quite linear.

I look forward to seeing what's on the horizon on the braille scene, and here's to a lasting partnership between braille and the raspberry Pi!

Take care all, and have fun.

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