The invention of braille is now about its 200 years and has continued to go along with time for the blind. The invention is now even more accessible in today’s world with many assistive technologies out there to make accessing information on different platforms easier for the blind.

Hands on Braille
The Braille system opened a pathway for blind persons to access information.

People who are blind are getting more options on how they access information more than ever before with technology and new innovations coming onboard to incorporate braille in technology. This appears to be a breakthrough but caution is being exercised in the modernization process to avoid people neglecting the basics of learning how to read without technology-infused devices.

Technology has no doubt helped the braille invention. There is now the electronic braille. You can access books in various electronic formats in braille and the excitement continues. This goes to show that braille is not going to be thrown away as old but it’s getting a touch of improvement from technology. You can now use a computer to generate braille instead of transcribing it manually.

Many electronic devices that were before now used by sighted people are now accessible to braille users. Technology and innovativeness are continuously revolutionizing the braille technology in the modern world with many devices making the use of braille get to more blind people in different forms they are incorporated.

The following technologies have made information more accessible to the blind with the braille technology:

Braille Displays

Braille Display
Braille Displays enable the visually impaired to interact with a computer.

With the braille display technology, braille users can now move around computer screens with braille terminals. Laptop and desktop PC users who are blind can now read the screen line after line in braille. Once you connect it to your computer, the document on the screen will be translated in braille and will be displayed on the inbuilt braille cells on the device. The difference between this type of braille and the hard surface or paper design is that it continuously refreshes when the reader moves his cursor around.

Some of the popular ones in the market are Brilliant, Braillex, and Braille Wave.

Braille Embossers

People are quite familiar with printers but embossers have been invented to add more functionality to the way people can print documents.

Braille embossers are printers but don’t print the usual print formats but a braille format. Here, you get the usual braille dots printed out to enable the blind read the output. Any computer that uses a braille translator can use braille embossers to output braille forms. Some common designs available on the market are Braille Blazers, Everest, Index Basics and ViewPlus.

Braille Translation Software

A braille embosser machine from Braillio.
A braille embosser machine from Braillio.

There are different braille translation software to help the blind with reading. Braille translators translate documents on electronic devices into braille code. This can then be printed with a braille embosser or read through a braille display. In the US, Grade 2 braille is recognized as the standard.

The common braille translator software is Duxbury, Megadots and Braille2000.

There are other devices today that have incorporated braille technology for the blind. Many designs have braille keyboards and speech outputs for the user’s convenience. Some major designs include:

  • BrailleDesk: This device helps the blind by incorporating a braille keyboard, numeric keypads, all function keys, and speech output.
  • ErgoBraille: The ErgoBraille device has a braille keyboard and some function keys with a speech output.
  • SQWERT: Has some function keys, Qwerty keyboard, and a speech output.

How Important Will Braille Continue To Be?

Braille proponents see the importance of teaching the blind with braille from their early age as a must just like other sighted children will learn to read information on the book. With less than 20% of the blind still not able to read with braille which is primary, the concern for the basics becomes a thing of worry and need for carefulness with technology.

According to a study by the National Federation for the Blind Jernigan Institute, there is a strong link between people who are able to read braille and a higher level of education. An audio screen reader may give much comfort but it can also be limited as well. Braille readers can read privately at the corner but this may not always be with some devices. That said, learning braille will still be primary to the blind reader. The use of braille may not die anytime soon because it has helped the blind transcend beyond limitations of not seeing.