This episode focusses on braille technology: its past, present and future. We are joined by historians, people working in the braille technology industry today and developers of the next generation of braille hardware and software.
George Bell has been at the helm of Techno-Vision Systems for at least 35 years. In that time, he has brought many blindness products to the UK market, repaired numerous machines which would have otherwise been condemned, and provided countless hours of technical support. He is particularly well-known for his involvement with the Duxbury Braille Translator, not only as UK sales and support but also through his tireless oversight of the documentation. He also enjoyed a very fruitful relationship with Dancing Dots, and imported many of their products including the Goodfeel braille music translator.
As we approach the end of George’s long and established career, we thought it would be fitting to spend some time in conversation with him, picking out the highlights of the past three and a half decades and thinking about what the future might look like.
The Perkins Brailler has been a staple in the lives of braille users ever since the first one was manufactured in Watertown, Massachusetts in 1951. To this day, the Perkins is widely considered to be the most durable braille device on the market, with machines over 50 years old still going strong.
They are so popular, in fact, that it is easy to forget that we need to teach new braillists how to use them! Furthermore, even established braillists do not always know how to diagnose faults when they arise, or how to take the best care of their machines so as to minimise the risks of faults arising in the first place.
On 15 March, we were joined by Alan Thorpe of Eyecan, a certified Perkins Brailler Repair Centre. Alan took us on a tour of the Perkins Brailler, introducing us to the proper names of all of the parts! He explained how to insert paper and write braille, and described some common faults and how to overcome them. He also explained when a professional service or repair may be required and briefly explained the differences between the different models of Perkins Brailler available.
For further information please visit the Braillists Foundation Media Page.