As the days get shorter and the nights get colder, a few people joined us for a cosy fireside chat to round off the year on Tuesday 19 December.
How do you write and address your Christmas cards? How do you know whose Christmas presents are whose? And what part does braille play in all of this?
We were joined by our expert Braille for Beginners team, Mel Pritchard and Chantelle Griffiths, to get the conversation started, and we heard plenty of ideas from the audience too, on a multitude of Christmas-themed topics.
Have you ever downloaded a book from Bookshare or Reading Services, but struggled to extract the zip file? Have you ever had a BRF file emailed to you, but not been able to copy it to your braille display? Does your braille display only support text or BRF files, but you want to read Word or PDF files on it?
If you can answer “yes” to any of these questions, this episode is for you!
Matthew Horspool was in the presenter’s chair on Tuesday 19 September 2023 and took us step by step through extracting zip files, converting files from one format to another, and copying files from your computer to your braille display. Demonstrations using a screen reader formed an integral part of the presentation, and as ever there was plenty of time for questions at the end.
N.B. most of the demos were carried out on Windows, but the concepts discussed should apply equally to other operating systems.
Transferring Content to your Braille Display (Extra 60)
Whether you’re new to braille or an experienced braillist, reading is an important and fundamental process. To fully appreciate the brilliance of braille for use in daily life, reading is something you should enjoy and feel comfortable with. But what can you do to improve your reading skills once you have learned all the letters and perhaps some contractions as well? How can you enhance your reading speed and accuracy even if you’ve been doing braille for a while?
On Tuesday 20 June 2023, Chantelle Griffiths, Co-Founder and CEO of New Zealand’s Tactile and Technology Literacy Centre, shared some practical tips and tricks to get you on the right track with your reading, no matter how much braille you’ve done or where you are on your braille journey. There is something here for everyone.
What actually happens when we read and how reading by touch is different — or not — from reading visually.
How to press the “reset button” for your fingers and brain when you’re just not feeling it. Literally.
The fundamental braille technique you didn’t know you knew and how it enhances your reading.
The three C’s of braille reading; what they are and how they work together to help you connect the dots between your brain and fingers.
How playing the viola relates to reading in a straight line and how you can experience something similar yourself, even if you’re not a musician.
How to start from exactly where you are and enjoy the process.
Lots more practical tips, ideas and experiments you can try on your own.
This was a very practical session. If you’d like to follow along with the recording, please have some hardcopy or electronic braille handy and a couple of random objects that feel nothing like braille.
The Orbit Reader range is now very extensive and comprises the Orbit Reader 20, the Orbit Reader 20 Plus and the Orbit Reader 40. On Tuesday 30 May 2023, James Bowden, Braille Technical Officer at RNIB, talked us through what these products can do, how they work, and the differences between Orbit Readers and other braille displays and notetakers.
The differences between the Orbit Reader 20, 20 Plus and 40
How Orbit technology differs from traditional braille display technology
How to find and open files
How to find text within a file
How to use the editor
How to transfer files between the Orbit and a computer
There was a lot to cram into the last of our computer science-themed classes. We started with a quick refresher about what we’ve covered so far before taking a deep dive into what it takes to write software and build hardware with a particular focus on the accessibility elements of the process.
Hable One is a powerful, fun and exciting way for you to interact with your smartphone or tablet using braille. As well as being a fully functional braille keyboard, supporting both grades 1 and 2, it also serves as a wireless remote control for every aspect of your smartphone or tablet, from moving around the screen to selecting, playing and pausing music, dialling numbers and changing settings.
For beginner braillists, it is a uniquely satisfying way of putting your braille skills into practice. For more advanced braillists, it is a vital productivity tool. It works in partnership with the smartphone or tablet’s screen reader and supports all popular apps including messages/WhatsApp, Facebook/Messenger, Twitter, Spotify, mail, contacts, calendar, reminders and notes.
On Tuesday 21 February at 7:30 PM GMT, we were joined by representatives from Hable, who told us more about this innovative device. We learned how easy it is to set it up and saw some practical examples of how it works both as a keyboard and a remote control. There was also plenty of opportunity for the audience to ask questions.
Meet Hable One: the Portable Bluetooth Controller for your Smartphone (Extra 52)