Embracing Braille

Crocheting with Braille

July 18, 2019 at 11:30AM Central Time

This week Sue Brasel will present on how to use braille for crocheting.
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Past Discussions

Q&A Session

June 27, 2019

This week's discussion was an open-ended question and answer session. We also paid tribute to Helen Keller for her 139th birthday.

To commemorate Helen Keller's 139th birthday on June 27, here is a letter from Helen Keller to the National Braille Press founder, Francis Ierardi.

Basic Braille Skills

June 20, 2019

Who should have basic braille skills?

This week we talked about who should have basic braille skills. Here is an excerpt of "Who Should Learn Braille" from NFB's Future Reflections quarterly magazine.

Louis Braille

June 13, 2019

This week we discussed the hypothetical: what if Louis Braille had not become blind?

This week we talked about Louis Braille and braille literacy. More information about Louis Braille.

Braille Literacy Statistics:

The American Printing House for the Blind polls each state for data on children between the ages of 4 and 21. Their results are alarming, it is estimated that 60,400 students are attending public schools or public ran programs. Here is a breakdown of the literacy percentages for these children:

  • 34.8% of students are identified as non-readers
  • 9.2% of students are defined as auditory readers
  • 18.3% of students are pre-readers (learning the reading basics)
  • 29.2% of students are defined as print readers
  • 8.5% are identified as Braille readers

Contributed by Michelle Boyd. Source: BrailleWorks

Notes from Sheila Gunn on what would have happened if Louis Braille had not become blind.

Braille Printing Press

June 6, 2019

Let's discuss the role of braille printing press in enhancing braille accessibility.

Q&A Session

May 30, 2019

This week's discussion will be an open-ended question and answer session.

Braille Embossers

May 23, 2019

This week we talked about the role of braille embossers in promoting braille.

This week we discussed the affordability and usability of braille embossers.


Common Braille Errors

May 16, 2019

Let's talk about common braille errors that can occur in reading and writing.

This week we talked about common errors that can occur in reading and writing braille.


Braille Writers

May 9, 2019

Let's talk about the usability and affordability of Braille writers.

This week we talked about braille writers:


Braille Displays

May 2, 2019

This week we talked about refreshable braille displays, their limitations and how they enhance independence.

Q&A Session

April 25, 2019

This week's discussion was an open-ended question and answer session. We touched on braille displays and how to increase reading speed.

Braille Pens

April 18, 2019

How can braille pen technology enhance your independence? Speaker Darrin Cheney will join us for this discussion.

Embracing Braille group participant Darrin Cheney led the conversation this week to talk about the BraillePen and how this technology enhances your independence! Here's a quick note from Darrin:

I set two goals when I decided to learn braille with Hadley: read and write without sight; and read web-braille books. While I was taking Braille Literacy 3 & 4, I researched web-braille and reading electronic files with a refreshable braille display. I purchased a BraillePen refreshable braille display and an iDevice to create a braille notetaker that would enhance my independence.

The BraillePen is an ultra-portable braille refreshable display - about the same size as a 1 inch thick, 4 X 6 notecard. A BraillePen pairs perfectly with your iDevice, smartphone, or computer via BlueTooth. It has the familiar Perkins style, 6 braille keys to enter text either in uncontracted or contracted braille; a Space button, a Control button, and an Alt button to perform various functions; two navigation keys to pan the braille left and right; and a joystick to navigate and to select items.

A refreshable braille display has cells where pins raise and lower depending on what text you are reading. An electronic braille page has 40 cells per line and 25 lines per page. The BraillePen has 12 cells. As you press pan left or right, the BraillePen will refresh the display. An integrated cursor routing system allows you to select and move your cursor to a particular cell which is desireable for writing and editing text. You can set the display input or output text in either uncontracted or contracted braille depending on your skill level.

I use my iPhone with VoiceOver - the integrated Apple accessible technology software built into the operating system - to control my BraillePen. I can keep my iPhone in my Pocket, and use the BraillePen without someone listening in. At a doctor visit, I can send a text message to my wife, check my calendar, read my notes, or even search for information. At home or on the go, I can also write email, articles, or that first novel. Plus, I can also read any text on a web page, iBook, .PDF file, or from any app.

Web-braille is an electronic file that is translated into braille with special software like Duxbury. These web braille or .BRF files are displayed on your device. Both NLS and BookShare have thousands of braille books you can download and read if you have an account. NLS uses the BARD: The Braille and Audio Reading Download system. I use the BARD Mobile iOS app from NLS to download web braille books on my iPhone and read them on my BraillePen.

The BraillePen 12 Touch sells for $995 and you can buy it direct from Harpo in Poland. There are other similar braille displays for around $1,000-$1,500. You'll spend more if you add cells and other features. Take some time to research and talk to other braille display users before you spend your cash.

In conclusion, I like using my BraillePen and the independence it provides. It allows me to be literate where I can read and write effectively by touch and access thousands of books. The BraillePen is a good place to start for new braille users wanting to learn more about accessible electronic braille.