Braille Pens

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

April 18, 2019

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Audio Transcript



Hadley

Embracing Braille: Braille Pens

Presented by Vileen Shah

April 18, 2019

Darrin Cheney: So I set two goals for myself that I wanted to accomplish. I wanted to read and write without sight, and I wanted to read web braille books. I loved to read, but I wanted to read them where the story comes alive in your head, not through your ears. So while I was taking Braille Literacy Three and Four I did a lot of research about braille, and braille displays, and electronic files, and braille books, and the whole bit. I put together a package, or basically what I call it, a Braille Notetaker that utilizes a Braille Pen. I'll explain what that is here in a minute, connected to an iPad. I spent about $1,500 to create this notetaker that allowed me to do a lot of wonderful things. If you buy a standalone Braille Notetaker, they cost three to four times more than that.

What is a Braille Pen? If you can actually hold one in your hand, which I am at the moment, it would be the size of a 4x6 note card, and it's about an inch thick, and it weighs less than a pound. It has a strap so that you can actually put it over your head, and then you can actually Braille with it resting on your chest. I know it sounds kind of strange, but it actually is pretty quite effective. It's very, very, very portable. It pairs perfectly with an iDevice, smart phone, or even your computer via Bluetooth, so you can use it as I mentioned, I use mine with an iPad or an iPhone. You can also use it with JAWS as well.

Now, looking at the top of it, what does it have as far as buttons, controls, and such? It has the familiar Perkins style six keys. It's input braille and then you can input braille and these uncontracted or contracted braille. There's a space button, a control button, and an alt button to control various functions. Then there are two keys to navigate the braille left and right. This is done with what's called a pan. Then there's a joystick that allows you to navigate and select items on the screen or within a book, or whatever from there.

Now, a braille display has pins, essentially. One set of pins per cell. Each of these cell has six dots, there's six pins and as you read through the text those pins will change depending on what text that you're reading. That's what's called being refreshed. As you pan left and right it will refresh the braille. An actual braille page, electronic braille page, has about 40 cells per line and 25 lines per page. This particular device has 12 cells, so in order to get through one line you've got to pan it almost 4 times. Display also has within these certain pens and such that you work with is that it has a cursor routing system that allows you to select where to put the cursor on the application or whatever that you're using by touching the cell, which is very, very handy. That's important especially if you're writing or editing text and the like, that you can do it from the display and not necessarily through VoiceOver.

All right, now you can set the display for various functions and things and I do it through VoiceOver on my iPhone. Depending on what your skill level is that you can the output to uncontracted or contracted and the input to uncontracted or contracted. Meaning that if you're at the end of Lit three or in Lit four and you want to be able to start reading, yes, you can actually set it to where that you can actually utilize it to read now without having to wait.

I went ahead and I purchased an iPhone. With the iPhone I can go ahead and I can utilize the same iOS system that's on there called VoiceOver that you can either do just gestures or such on the screen or that you can actually use the Braille Pen to actually navigate words through the particular device.

As I mentioned, I can keep the phone essentially wherever I want to since I'm connected via Bluetooth, so either on the desk or what have you. I actually put mine in my pocket and then take my Braille Pen with me, that way I can either read text messages or send text messages, or whatever I want to without other people listening in to hear your VoiceOver talking.

At the doctor's visit I can go ahead and I can actually send the text message to my wife to let her know that I'm done, that I can be picked up. I can actually check my calendar to see if that date's available for the next appointment. I can even type up notes that I want to talk to the doctor and have access to those. I can even search for information if I'm looking for something particular, either during an appointment or while I'm in the waiting room. At home or on the go, since it's actually working with an iDevice, I can read, and I can write and I can do all those wonderful things from about any app that I want to from my device. If I want to check out the latest sports scores, if I want to be able to read a news article, or what have you, I can do that all from my Braille Pen.

That's a little bit about where they connect it to an iPhone or iDevice, what about Web-Braille books, what are those? Web-Braille is an electronic file that is translated into Braille with special software like Duxbury. We talked a little bit about that last week. What you'd do is you'd actually format the document say in a word program and then you would actually convert or translate that text into braille. Once it's actually into that particular format they're usually saved as what's called a .BRF file or a Braille Ready File that you can actually download to your device and you can display it on your Braille Pen.

One of the limitations with the Braille Pen is you can't download books directly to it, you have to use another device. But for the price and such it's worth it to be just fine for me.

Once these files are downloaded to your device you could then get access or whatever you need to from your iDevice. When you look at the number of books that are available through the National Library Service there's thousands and thousands and thousands of books that are out there that they're continuing to move in this direction to put more things into downloadable format. They use what's called the BARD Audio Reading Download system. If you notice that the first letter of that is braille, which is what they're really working on to enhance and move forward with that particular part. As a result, they've written a software app called BARD, you can download it for your iOS device, your Android device, what have you, that you can go search for books and then you can go ahead and you can send them to your device that you can access with your Braille Pen. That how I generally read what books that I have for now.

There are other sources too that you can books as well. For example, you could actually download a book from Apple bookstore or you could actually get a membership with Bookshare. At one time having students... there was a program set up where you could actually get a membership that way and they have thousands of books too that you can download.

You have access to this tool, this package essentially then that opens up your independence and allows you to do all these wonderful things. How much is it? What does it cost? What do you have to do to get started? The Braille Pen 12, the versions that they have right now, the Touch, sells for $995. The company is called Harpo and you can actually buy it direct from Poland, so then they'll ship it to your house and you can go from there. If you want to just not use the display but you want to have access to a braille keyboard, you can actually buy one and they're I think around $400 that you can just get the ones with the keys without the display.

There are other braille displays out there that you can buy for $1,000 to $1,500. I can give you some ideas and some suggestions that way. But keep in mind as you add more cells and other features it's going to cost more, depending on what you want to do with it. You also want to make sure too that whatever device that you buy is robust, something that you can haul around with you, that you can throw it in your backpack that's going to survive, all of those particular things. I've had mine now for seven or eight years.

Before you get started I suggest you take some time to talk to other people, learn all you can about them, get your hands on one, and then figure out what's going to be best for you. Then learn additional skills or things that you'll to technology wise, or what have you, to have access to this. That will help you get started down the road and let's say I've got some suggestions and some things that way to.

Is a Braille Pen a pen? In a way it is, but it's much, much more than that. If you take the Pen and you pair it say with an iDevice, you've got a computer. You have a portable computer that you could do a lot of wonderful things. Now I like using my Braille Pen and I really, really appreciate the independence that it provides me. It allows me to be literate where I can read and write effectively by touch, and I have access to thousands and thousands of books. It's a good place to start for new braille users wanting to learn more about accessible electronic braille. It's also an opportunity for you to take the braille that you're learning now and pick it up a notch of what you're doing in your daily life. That's about it. Any questions?

Vileen Shah: Thank you Darrin and I'll keep the floor open for questions a little later. Appreciate your very informative, knowledgeable input. Thanks again a lot for today. Friends, I just wanted to make a point…if somebody's using JAWS please do your Alt A.

Darrin: Oh sorry, I forgotten my computer was still on.

Vileen: The best option is to insert a headphone into your computer and put it under earphone.

Darrin: Yeah, sorry about that I was on my phone and I forgotten the computer was still on.

Vileen: No, that's okay.

Darrin: So I've gone and muted the computer.

Vileen: So that's okay. To err is human, don't worry.

Darrin: Yeah, I've got it taken care of I've turned off the speech.

Vileen: I'm putting headphones, so anything going on in the Zoom platform you're all tells me. If somebody leaves the meeting somebody joins the meeting and all that.

Darrin: Yeah, I've got it on my phone I just forgot

Vileen: That's probably an effective way. Going back to this topic today I just wanted to say more and I should have said in the beginning that particularly for beginner learners who are trying to learn braille or who are at some initial stage of learning braille and that's the group I'm supposed to focus more, but that doesn't mean that I should not include all of others who know braille so well. That with the invent of technology, as the technology started emerging beginning the audio technology when the [inaudible 00:12:02] came in and the books started being available in the audio format many people started saying that braille has become obsolete now we don't need braille we can depend on audio. Then came the computer and now you get more access to the books you can read books using your computer, listen to that, or you can get end number of all your books from NLS even from Kindle or many other sources.

With the audio almost becoming almost all prevalent it looks to many people that braille is of no use. Braille is now outdated, braille is obsolete, and I wanted to tell you that it is not true. Again, braille is your buddy. Braille is your friend. You can use it and you can combine braille with technology so Braille Pen is one such example how you can combine the technology with braille and enhance your independence to a greater level. As Darrin mentioned he can even send text messages while in the doctor's office. This is tremendously a big wonder. It's amazing how much we can do using the technology as well as braille. Let's not forget we can't use audio everywhere. We can't use the audio in the noisy situation. Ellen Kregle will support me here.

We can't use audio when we are supposed to keep quiet and we can't use audio when others are talking. That where if you have a braille device combined with your technology you can still be active, be busy, be productive, and that's where we have so much importance of braille. Braille and technology need not be seen as adversaries but should be treated as friends, as complementary, as supporting each other and if you will combine your braille skills with your technology you will enjoy a tremendous amount of independence. With that little speech, which should have been introductory speech but I didn't want to take time and I wanted to give the presenter the maximum time so I thought I would say now. Now let’s first do a little bit of introduction, particularly those who are attending this session please speak up and once that's done I will open this floor for questions and answers. Let's do this kind of introduction for about five minutes.

In some Zoom meeting my braille display and my computer both were able to tell me the names of participants at least of those who were in the meeting using the computer but I don't know what happened now I do not have the names of participants my system tells me 18 participants, also in the email if you read, it also said you can raise your hands and yes you can raise your hands but that's for a sighted person. There is a way to find out who has raised the hand and there is some shortcut key command which I have yet to learn. As of today I do not have a way to find out if you raised your hand but you may always speak up and with respect to everybody else when someone is speaking you can wait and when you are done saying say over so others get a chance to speak.

Let’s first get some introduction of people. Please, speak up those that are here for the first time.

David: I just joined first but I will let someone else introduce themselves because…

Vileen: Okay, say your name.

David: My name’s David.

Vileen: Okay, David. Okay great. Thank you welcome to the group.

David: Yes, it should be good times.

Vileen: Okay, anybody else?

Linn Sorge: Hi Vileen, it’s Linn.

Vileen: Hi, say your name I'm sorry.

Linn: Linn.

Vileen: Oh Linn Sorge?

Linn: Yes.

Vileen: Oh hi, How are you?

Linn: I am fine, and I think this is a wonderful group. I've been curious about the Braille Pen, so I was thrilled to be able to come today. I have taught braille. I started reading braille as a little girl and I taught braille at the University to potential teachers and then when I moved to Hadley I've taught braille. I also was the braille music teacher and am helping people finish out their courses but my main point in this intro is I was sitting at my desk listening to Vileen and on my desk is my good old fashioned Perkins Brailler, my Apex Notetaker, a braille display for my computer plus my speech output, but when Vileen says braille is your friend, I use braille everyday all day and I would be lost without it. So the perks of technology are really great they give me more things. My little Notetaker has a dictionary, GPS, word processing, calculator, calendar, and it's all done using braille. If you think, oh well you just want to read an old book. Oh no, braille is keeping up with us.

You can use it for so many things. I just was sitting here, as I said thinking wow if you really look at this, I have all these braille things right on my desk, and right above my desk is a shelf of braille books. He's right. Braille is your friend, and I'm very glad to be here and hopefully we'll get to know some of you as the weeks go by, over.

Vileen: Perfect, thank you so much Linn. By the way those who can get it exactly Linn is now known as a Learning Expert, which is another name for instructor, so Linn is my coworker and she knows braille more than I do. She even knows braille music not only that she knows but she even teaches that, so that is something great and I am so privileged to have Linn with us. I'm pretty certain that many of the questions that you would ask Linn will be able to answer. I've got a co-host here. I've got Darrin as a co-host, I've got Linn as a co-host, and I'm so blessed that we make a good team. Thank you so much. Okay anybody else attending first time? Please speak up.

Mark Harshman: Yes, this is Mark from Illinois.

Vileen: Oh, Mark Harshman?

Mark: Yes sir. That's correct.

Vileen: Oh, welcome. I saw your name from the beginning but I'm glad you made it today. Perfect, yes please tell us more about yourself.

Mark: Well, I'm slowly going blind. I'm legally blind in my left eye but I still have a bit of vision in my right eye and I'm in Braille Lit three right now and I'm kinda going through that at a slow pace. I'm excited about using braille and getting the opportunity to read braille in anticipation of probably going fully blind here soon. I'm glad to join the group. Thank you for being here.

Vileen: Oh most welcome and don't forget to combine your braille with technology. That gives you a tremendous amount of independence. Okay?

Mark: Yes sir. Thank you.

Vileen: Okay, great. Next who is here first time? Okay. Let's quickly do one thing. Let everyone say his or her name so the first time participants would know who they are with here in this group. So please speak up your name one by one and say one or two sentences real quick. Okay.

Bob: Hello Vileen. This is Bob from Texas. This is my second time.

Vileen: Welcome Bob.

Bob: Thank you, over.

Vileen: Yes goodness. Yes volunteer yourselves don't wait for-

David: Oh, I'm David, this is my first time here. So I'm just checking and seeing what's going on in this wonderful group and just hanging out.

Vileen: Thank you very good. Next one?

Sylvia: This is Sylvia, I'm from Texas, and I'm legally blind because of glaucoma. I've been legally blind for a good 30, 35 years and I'm on Lit two, and I just finished having a little tat-a-tat with my braille writer. I couldn't figure out how to load that paper but I finally figured it out and I'm on my way. Excited about learning braille, over.

Vileen: Next one.

Dan: Hey Vileen. This is Dan from North Carolina-

Vileen: Who is from North Carolina?

Dan: Oh, hi Vileen. This is Dan. How are you?

Vileen: Oh I'm good. I'm good. Welcome.

Dan: Good thank you.

Dorothy: Hello, this is Dorothy from Texas. Pipe Creek, Texas. I'm taking Braille Lit Four and excited. I just turned in my assignment six last night and Vileen actually taught me Braille Lit Three, so I'm glad to be here, and I encourage our learning braille, that its apart of our lives, over.

Vileen: Keep it up. Good next one?

Michele Clock: Hi Vileen. This is Michele Clock from New Hampshire and I'm in Braille Lit Three and I just submitted lesson eight last week, over.

Vileen: I think we missed you last time. Right Michele Clock?

Michele: Right, I wasn't here last week.

Vileen: We had other Michele so somebody filled in. Next one?

Aaron Kriegel: This is Aaron Kriegel from Los Angeles. Vileen is my teacher and he's a good teacher.

Vileen: Thank you. Okay next one?

Sylvia: Hi Vileen. This is Sylvia and I am from Virginia and I am legally blind.

Vileen: Okay, welcome Sylvia.

Elyse: My name is Elyse I'm new with Hadley as a Learning Expert. Sitting in on the call again. Hello to everyone. I am sighted but I do know braille by visual.

Vileen: Oh Elyse you're here. Thank you. How do you say your name?

Elyse: Elyse. Elyse like the thing you need for an apartment a lease, over.

Vileen: My device says Elise. Well that happens. Okay welcome. Next one?

Allen Kmiotek: Hi this is Allen Kmiotek from Kissimmee, Florida.

Vileen: Oh, yeah. How can I miss you? Go ahead. Okay welcome Allen I think we missed you last time or the one before that well anyway I'm glad you're here. Okay next name.

Allen: Yeah I had a doctor's appointment.

Vileen: Oh there you go I try to remember who I met and who I did not. I hope everything is well with you. Okay next one?

Karen: Hi this is Karen from Texas. I've completed the UEB Braille Lit series with Vileen, over.

Vileen: Thank you. We have so many Texan girls here. I'm sorry I'm just kidding. Next name.

Rodrick: This is Rodrick again.

Vileen: You're not from Texas right?

Rodrick: No, I'm not from Texas. Originally from Ohio, and now from Phoenix Arizona. I'm taking Braille Literacy Four just about to do assignment six and I'm glad to hear that braille and technology do combine as I've heard from more than one instructor braille is not obsolete at all. It's keeping up with the times that's the whole point of UEB I think- [crosstalk 00:25:56]

Vileen: Yes and by the way, it has been 210 years since Louis Braille was born in France. Nearly 200 years a little less than that when he invented Braille. Braille is still here for 200 years.

Rodrick: Oh I'm sorry I forgot to say over.

Vileen: Okay thank you. Next one?

Cyrille: Hi this is Cyrille, I'm from the Philippians and I'm reading from my materials in Braille Literacy two over.

Vileen: Great, Cyrille. This is so interesting for all of us those who are particularly new she is literally actually in the Philippians where the time now is 1:00am. There is no time bar you can learn from any source, every source, every person. Next one? Awesome.

Linn: Thanks for hanging in there and staying up with us. It'll be a great group to be a part of.

Vileen: Thank you Linn. Next one? Okay, everyone who wanted to speak spoke up. Thanks a lot and now this floor is open for question and answer. I would suggest that you will please focus your questions on Braille Pen first, and then if we have time we will take other questions. Secondly, next week we have the open question answer session so if you could not ask any question that you wanted to know don't panic, you don't have to worry you will have a chance next week. Next week there's no presentation no speech directly the question answer session will begin. Okay? Alright let’s get started with questions and do not forget to say over when you are done. I also forget but I will try to include myself, okay.

It seems Darrin Cheney has said everything so well that nobody seems to have a question.

Darrin: Nobody has questions.

Vileen: Oh here we go. Say your name first.

David: It's David I just have one question because I have a similar set up here but I have a slightly larger braille display, but I was just wondering how you manage with having to pan three or four times to get through a line of text because that seems like you'd wear out the panning button.

Vileen: Interesting question Darrin can answer. I don't use Braille Pen.

Darrin: Actually, it takes a little to get used to if you have a larger display like a 40 cell display you've actually got to move hand all the way across then hit that button so you have that repetitive motion back and forth-

David: Yeah unless your display has thumb keys.

Darrin: Right, and on this bigger one it actually works out pretty well because you actually put your hand go across and hit the pan button with your pinky. So basically you're just stretching out your hand as opposed to making your whole arm move back and forth.

David: Okay. So you kinda leave your hand in one spot?

Darrin: Right. It's just how you want to be able to figure some stuff out, but keep in mind though that a 40 cell display is a heck of a lot bigger to hall to the doctor’s office and spend about $6,000 you might not really wanna take it on the bus with you.

David: Yeah, they are big. There is that I was just wondering because I'm used to slightly larger ones but then I read everything so. You said it didn’t have cursor routing buttons-

Darrin: No this one does.

David: Oh does it?

Darrin: Yeah it does this one actually has-

David: So does it actually have on a typical display or are you just touching in a certain spot or how does that work?

Darrin: You touch it a certain way on the actual cell, and then it'll actually move your cursor wherever you are in the program.

David: So it doesn't have like an actual button you just touch the cell and it moves.

Darrin: No, the cell. It's all integrated that way.

David: That's kinda neat because I was wondering because the description didn't look like it had routing buttons.

Darrin: No it does.

David: Why would anyone use that that'd be crazy. Is that only a six dot display or is that eight dots?

Darrin: It is set up as six dot which most of the time, let’s say you're doing some other things and for those of you who are getting started let me explain a little bit. When you're-

David: Sorry.

Darrin: No that's fine, good question. When you're actually working on a document or something like that to be able to get your focus in a particular spot in your cursor where you can actually edit the text. Go ahead and you can mute your phone too, David if you wanted to.

David: Oh thanks will do that. Hang on.

Darrin: Alright, thanks. So what you have to do essentially is that there are some different commands that you have to make it work. You can't just touch the screen and it automatically goes there because then you wouldn't even know where to do that. What this actually has is a way that you can actually- say that the 11th cell on over is where you want your cursor to go, you can touch it and then you can go right there to edit. It's something to think about that way, and as you get started and your thinking about wow this is way more than I can possibly handle or deal with as I'm learning braille interestingly enough as I started to get more into it and started to use it along with the other classes and things that I was doing is that it really enhanced because I was using braille more and more and more because I wanted to use this technology to go with it. Anyway over.

Karen: Darrin. Does this have a keyboard for Braille inputs? I missed part of the conversation, so I wasn't sure if you talked about that.

Darrin: Sure.

Vileen: Name first please.

Karen: Karen.

Vileen: Okay, yes.

Darrin: Well, Karen, it actually has six input keys that are set up, similar to what you would expect off of a Perkins Brailler. There are a total of six and then it has some of the other keys on there as well like a space bar, and control, and alt to be able to do certain things that you can do that. Yes it has input and in fact the one that I've been mentioning it's about a $1,000 they have a cheaper version which just has the input keys. You can actually use it as an actual keyboard which I find is a whole lot faster to type with. It is included, over.

Karen: But is it comfortable to use? Because I'm thinking the keys must be really small.

Darrin: No actually they fit your hands pretty well. Which, I kinda like. My hands will stay there and I don't have to hunt and find anything and everything's within reach. I can feel it I can touch it I can make it happen easy. It's designed that as you put the strap over your head you can actually have it hanging over your neck and down on your chest or on your tummy or what you want and then you can actually just go ahead and type that way. Its not like the big QWERTY keyboard where you have to go hunting and pecking and trying to find where all the keys are. Everything is right there where you need it. That's really effective.

Karen: Okay, great thank you.

Darrin: Yep.

Vileen: Interesting, and everything comes by practice, Karen. Even if you think you're not comfortable putting your hands. Practice, and practice, that's the key word. Okay alright. Next one?

Dan: Hey Darrin. This is Dan. How are you?

Darrin: Good how about you?

Dan: Great, I appreciate you taking the time to walk us through this today. This is fascinating. I have to confess I've never used a braille display and I'm not familiar with them beyond what you've described here today but if you could, I'm a heavy user of iPhone, iPad and so forth what might it look like to take notes? Would I for instance open the Notes app on my iPad and then begin entering data from the Braille Pen or what's it look like mechanically? Over.

Darrin: Okay, that's a good question. Are you using VoiceOver right now?

Dan: Yes.

Darrin: Ah, bonus points. You're halfway there, which is the cool thing. Let me put it this way instead of all the swiping, tapping, Flicking, and whatever else you need to do on the screen you do it all with the Braille Pen. You can navigate from item to item using joystick. You can use certain keyboard commands to jump between applications, to open up things whatever that you want to. You use essentially keyboard shortcuts but there shortcuts for the braille display. Since you know how to use VoiceOver and you know how to navigate within everything than this actually makes it a whole lot easier. You don't have to pick up that thicker part. So how does this actually work?

To be able to actually open up a document and I've never seen this thing before so this device is set in front of you and you can feel the different keys. You can feel where the Perkins keys are you can feel where the braille display part of it is, and you going where do I go from here? You open up your iPhone. You're already in a VoiceOver and then what you do is you pair the Braille Pen to the iPhone or whatever you want to from there, so the two are gonna be talking together. So when your phone goes to sleep than essentially you can wake it up with your Braille Pen and do all that stuff. So once you’re actually into it then you can open up whatever app that you want to be able to use, and since VoiceOver is built into the operating system it's part of everything that's on an iPhone or an iPad.

If you want to take notes you can do that in the Notes app. I prefer to use another app or two that are a little more braille friendly, that are a little bit easier to navigate one of them is called iWriter where I can actually go up create a document, open up that document then I can edit that document. So I can actually type short articles, long articles, whatever I want to from there. If I want to be able to send text messages to my wife or to my daughter or my son. I can open up text messaging system and this is the cool part I can get where my display is reading what they're typing and my focus is where I can type in the box and hit send so I can send and read real fast what going on and it's a great way to communicate.

I can do a variety of different things with it and anything that you need to do with a regular keyboard or whatever on an iDevice you can do with a braille display. Keep in mind any text that's on or displayed on your iDevice can be read on the Braille Pen. So if you want to go take a look at that sports score to find out what's gonna be the top quarterback is this year’s draft you can actually, instead of listening to it, you can actually read it and work on the way through the document.

Same as what you normally do. Hopefully that about answers it. The best thing that I suggest, because people say, where do I get started, the first one that I had my hands on was the $6,000 Braille Notetaker that was a built in laptop that had all the stuff and it was just like wow. I'm not gonna get that. Then I looked into this particular one paired to an iDevice and I went oh I can learn that, and I did, and then I've been growing and growing since then. Anyway, hope that answers your question if not I can clarify or add, over.

Dan: No, that very much answers it I appreciate it. That made it very clear and I'm really intrigued with the convenience of it. I don't know if it was you or Vileen made the point earlier that VoiceOver is great when audio doesn't get in the way, but you can't always just sit somewhere in a waiting room and be dictating into your... So that's a very intriguing tool.

Darrin: No, but you can actually be sitting there actually writing in whatever you want to and be editing and whatever you want to while you’re waiting for the doctor too. Nobody has to listen to it.

Dan: Yeah that's neat. Thank you.

Vileen: Great. Next one.

Linn: Darrin, It's Linn.

Vileen: Linn

Darrin: Hey Linn. Hey thanks for doing the reading contest too.

Linn: Oh sure, you could read some of those books using the Braille Pen you know.

Darrin: I am.

Linn: Anything you want an article or whatever. I have two questions. Does it come with a case, so that the display doesn't get all dusty and things? And if I were to put this on the table in front of me, is the braille display closest to me and then the keys or do the keys come first and then the braille display? Over.

Darrin: Good questions.

Vileen: You mean Braille Pen right?

Darrin: Yeah, and the way that this works Linn is it does come with a case and that the Braille Pen is actually Velcroed into it so that you can have it. Because you remember it has a strap so you can use it with or without the case. I keep mine with it and when I'm not using it I'll just Velcro it closed so it protects the keys and the display. And then your second question is that the way this looks or feels sitting in front of you on the table is that the display is at the bottom and that the Perkins keys and other keys are at the top. Whereas, some braille displays are flip flopped. And what I like about this one is that if I really just want to read I don't have to worry about my hands going across all the other buttons. Because other displays are at the top as opposed to the bottom.

Linn: I agree, that's excellent.

Vileen: Question?

Linn: Also, just a note. I have a serious hearing impairment, and so this is Linn. And when Darrin's talking about being in a noisy situation. I love my iPhone and Alex the VoiceOver but there are many times when I can't hear and this would solve the whole problem, over.

Vileen: Perfect. Yes.

Rodrick: This is Rodrick. I have a question can within this pen be used with a computer, I have a Dell computer with Windows 10. Can it be used with that? Over.

Darrin: Yes. You can connect it to a PC you can connect it to a Mac, you can connect it to an Android device. I haven't tried it with a Chrome device yet. It'll connect if you have Bluetooth and you can control it from there. Over.

Rodrick: Rodrick again, also would it take the place of a keyboard? Over.

Darrin: Yes, it will, and that's one of the nice things about it is that you can do everything in braille as opposed to trying to figure out where all the keys are on the keyboard.

Vileen: Yeah, that's a plus. Okay, next question? Feel free to ask.

Karen: Yes, this is Karen. I was just wondering, what about the translation table? Do you ever have any trouble where it doesn't translate from the braille into the print? Because I've seen some people send messages, email messages where it's gobbledygook because it didn't go through the translation.

Darrin: Okay, so essentially that's a good question, and I'm glad that you brought that part up. The actual iDevice using VoiceOver does braille translation for you whatever you do off of that particular device, and there are a couple different articles and somethings from other people that I've learned over the years that there's a lot of things that you want to turn off to help make that translation a whole lot easier. For example if you're in say a Google writing app, or Google mail that'll try to suggest words and things to help you write better and that'll throw you for a loop, or if you have any shortcuts that are set up then those will mess with the shortcuts that you would have with braille so there's a couple things you can do and you can and you can actually have that work better for you. But one of the things that I really like about braille and the independence that it provides is the literacy component, so that you can actually read and write what it is that you're trying to do.

So if there's anything that needs to be fixed or changed I can do that before I send that particular part off. So no I haven't had that lately with the new release and whatever else I have not had any problems with the translation table. Now the other part of that I wanted to bring up to is that if you get a web-braille book from NLS or from somebody else is that those files come translated already so what you end up doing is that when you download it to the BARD app on your phone or your iPad or Android device whatever, is that you have to set the Braille Pen in pretty much uncontracted mode all the way throughout so that the actual file the translations already there you don't have to translate the file again. So that's kinda interesting to get used to, but happy to share how to do that part too, over.

Karen: It's easy to flip the settings then I guess?

Darrin: Yes, anything that you want to be able to do that you'd have to normally go through the router or to do something like that there's a keyboard shortcut that you can make it happen for you. So very easy to set up, so essentially what you do is you have your cheat sheet for braille and then you have your cheat sheet for all the commands and things that you use all the time, and then as you keep using them day in and day out they just become second nature to you.

Karen: Back to the practice. Okay, thank you.

Vileen: Fascinating, yes. Next question? Well when nobody asking questions I just started my video so those who can see me can call me too I don't know if they can. I just wanted to see Linn. I'm kidding. Okay I stopped the video. More questions? A little interval in between.

Linn: Darrin, it's Linn again, I'm sorry to keep asking but this intrigues me. Does it come with a braille manual onboard? Or can you get a hard copy braille manual? Over.

Darrin: I have not been able to get an actual embossed copy. I've been able to get an online version or from a computer then that I can read it from there. It comes with the device, it comes with the charger, and basically everything that you need to get it started.

David: Yeah, I might have to grab one of those actually. Because it looks like a tiny little device, I'm guessing it fits in your pocket.

Darrin: Bout the size of a 4x6 note card.

David: Yeah, so that is pocket sized.

Vileen: Yeah it's pocketable if there is such a word.

David: Yeah, if there isn't than you just invented one. How do you read random BRF's on your phone though? You set those to open in like notes or something?

Darrin: No you can do it in a couple of different apps but the easiest way to do it within the BARD mobile app. Which, is already set up to do that.

David: Yeah, I'm in Canada so we have a couple different libraries, so they are not always in that particular app which is why I was asking to have a way to put those on your phone. Because I get a lot of books because I have Bookshare and then I have the library in Canada, and then there's a couple other ones that sometimes have BRF's. I either get a lot of BRF and EPUB and I was just wondering the quick way to stick those on my phone.

Darrin: The easiest way to do that essentially is that you can go to the file and then when you tap on the share button or you wanna do that, one of the places you can send it to is the BARD mobile app, and then you can actually open up other books and in fact I've read a lot of books from Bookshare and a variety of different places. It becomes a nice management tool to be able to make that happen.

David: They don't make you have to be a member of the Library of Congress or anything to go download their app right?

Darrin: Well I don't believe so, but you can't just access their library.

David: Yeah because I'm in Canada.

Darrin: Right. Just to kinda throw it out there for what happening or what the future thing that y'all might wanna be thinking about is that remember when I mentioned BARD that the first letter in BARD is Braille and Audio Recording Download, so NLS is really focusing on the braille side of things and they are actually working on a pilot program right now where they've selected a device that they've got a group of patrons that are testing it out so that this is actually going to be a device that you'll be able to check out from the library just like you do with your digital cartridge player at the moment. You'll be able to actually request one in braille. And so then this particular ones got a few more features on board, meaning you can actually download books unto it some of those things that's some pieces that they're working on and testing.

That is coming, and that is coming down the road. The other thing is that there was a braille initiative worldwide that some investors donated millions of dollars to build a braille display that was affordable to blind people and actually in the United States, American Printing House was one that they've actually got it. They're not available at the moment but other countries are. For example, you can get one in Britain, I don't know about Canada, but it's the Orbit 20 reader and those are going to be running for around $500 as well and that a 20 cell display. So whether you wanna look at this Braille Pen or you wanna look at something else. Braille technology is coming and it is coming assessable and it is coming available for all of us that want to use it.

As Vileen says, go ahead and practice, practice, practice your braille. Over.

Vileen: Over? Thank you so much for sharing this information. I heard about it but I wanted to confirm and when you said this it seems it's confirmed that were going to get a device which is good, like a braille display, and probably a recording device and that's something were going to get from NLS. Let's wait for that. I'll take one more question. We are reaching the end of this session.

Rodrick: This is Rodrick. All I can say is as a blind friend of mine says, cool. I guess I would have to contact my local library to get in touch with this BARD thing right? My local braille audio library.

Darrin: Yes. Talk to your books library that you get set up for that, and as I said, the braille device is being tested now. I don't know a particular date or when the funding will come out but they're working on it.

Vileen: Perfect.

Rodrick: That sounds good. Over.

Vileen: Anyone else have a question or a comment, or experience? Share your experience.

David: I'll just say that I have a similar set up to what Darrin has. I have the braille display so I pretty much use it for everything. The only feature that I wish they would implement is it'd be cool if you could pair these braille displays with multiple devices, but I haven't seen that yet.

Vileen: Well, we'll see it.

David: That would be cool.

Darrin: There is one that will actually pair to five different devices now.

David: Oh, which one is that? I've never seen this?

Darrin: Take a look at the Hims, H-I-M-S one.

David: Oh, okay. I'll have to poke around at that and see what they've got because that'd be kinda cool because I often have the computer and phone and such with braille so it'd be kinda cool if I could get messages from both of them, but then of course switching keyboards might be rough.

Linn: The new focus displays also both pair with Windows computer and iOS devices.

David: At the same time? So you can just bounce devices?

Linn: Yes, the fifth generation has that capability.

David: Handy.

Linn: Yes.

David: Very handy. I'll have to do that. Plus there's that multiline display as well that's supposed to be out that should be fun.

Vileen: Great. Anybody else? Last chance. We always have a chance next week so not to worry, but we'll certainly like all of you to speak up to feel free to ask questions anytime and do not be shy. Alright, ladies and gentleman we are reaching the end of this session. I think we had an excellent session today. Thank you so much Darrin Cheney for giving us such an informative talk and answering all questions so eloquently and intelligently. Then I thank all of you right from the beginning we had 8 participants and about 10 minutes ago I think Michele Clock left so we had 17 and one more person left, so we still maintained 16 which is a good number. I may say that this is turning out to be slightly a different group than what Sharron was running I know there was more interactive opportunities and it was more like a support group.

I think we'll get there sooner but we are using Zoom platform we are using a different technology. We are having a different number of participants different kinds of people, so it will take some time but we'll be there. I'm certainly appreciative two of my Hadley coworkers joined us and I'm glad to know that they've found today's session useful and helpful so with that I would like to wrap up this session. Once again I thank you so much I'm your moderator Vileen Shah just in case someone doesn't know me, and with that we bring today's session to an end. I wish you all a good week ahead and a good weekend, and those who celebrate I would like to wish them happy Easter, and with that I'll see you next Thursday. Come up with your questions. Write down your questions please come prepared and feel free to ask.