Connor Scott-Gardner is an avid reader, and on Tuesday 6 September 2022 he demonstrated how to download books from RNIB Reading Services, transfer them to a braille display and read them. He also explained how Reading Services differs from other offerings from RNIB and elsewhere.
If you have an iPhone, iPad or Android device, it’s highly likely that you can braille in grade 2 directly on the touch screen and have it back translated instantly – a perfect replacement for the on screen keyboard. In this episode, Matthew Horspool and special guest Chris Norman demonstrate how this works on both iOS and Android.
We also briefly explored other ways of entering braille without a braille display, including the popular Perky Duck program from Duxbury Systems.
We were delighted to be joined by Scott Davert, one of the most well-known authorities on the use of iOS with a braille display, for the third and final part of his exploration of this winning combination. Scott is the Coordinator at the Technology, Research and Innovation Center, part of the Helen Keller National Center for DeafBlind Youths and Adults, and serves on the editorial team at AppleVis.
In this session, he explained how to re-assign braille display commands and demonstrated web browsing with a braille display in Safari.
Most of us know about grade 2, of course, with its 180 contractions designed to make braille quicker to read and write and occupy less space.
Grade 3 extends this concept still further with over 300 additional contractions, rules to allow vowels to be omitted, and provisions for reducing spaces and new lines. Whilst it’s not an officially recognised code, it has a loyal following amongst long-time braillists, who have used it very successfully to take shorthand notes or transcribe passages of text for reading aloud. It’s especially useful in conjunction with a hand frame or slate and stylus.
James Bowden led a session exploring this code in more detail on Tuesday 20 July. Whilst he wasn’t able to cover all of the 300+ contractions in an hour, he did explain the concepts used to form them, introduce some of the most useful ones and the rules which govern their use, and signposted to resources with more information.
Over the years, blind people have benefitted from incredible enhancements in the fields of electronic braille and accessibility in general. In fact, it’s now possible to purchase a fully accessible Amazon Fire tablet for under £50 which, pared with an inexpensive braille display such as an Orbit Reader, and Amazons Kindle store which offers access to quite literally hundreds of thousands of digital books, makes for an incredibly cost-effective braille reading setup. But how does it work?
In this masterclass, presented by Ben Mustill-Rose, we provided a general overview of the Fire tablet, the basics of setting it up, how to connect a braille display and how to navigate the device using it. We then purchased a book from the Kindle store and walked through how to read it on a braille display.
This week’s Masterclass has a more low tech flavour as we take a wander into the heart of the household. If you’ve ever wondered how to read braille recipes without ruining them or what to do when the label is too big for the jar, this session is for you.
Emma Williams led the session – teacher of Independent Living Skills at New College Worcester, and a familiar voice to many from our Clever Cooking events last year. She drew on a wealth of personal experience of using braille in the kitchen, as well as things which have worked well (and maybe some which haven’t) for her peers and her students.
If you’re a blind Android user, you’re bound to have come across Steve Nutt at Computer Room Services. He’s blind himself, been in the accessible smartphone business for over 20 years, and has a vast amount of knowledge and experience when it comes to using smartphones with braille displays.
We’re delighted that he joined us on Tuesday 18 May to present an introduction to using an Android device with a braille display. He covered which braille displays work with Android, how to connect them, how to navigate the operating system, other key concepts, and how to use braille input.