Braille displays

What is a braille display and how can it help?

A braille display is also sometimes called a refreshable braille display. It is a device that ‘displays’ braille characters using a series of bumps that can be raised and lowered.

Pacmate portable braille | © Sight and Sound

Someone who can read braille can use a braille display to read documents, surf the web and carry out any other tasks with a computer that can be done in text.

Some braille displays also incorporate a Perkins-style keyboard that allow the user to navigate the system and type using braille key commands.

Others may incorporate a qwerty keyboard or may be designed to sit under a qwerty keyboard. Braille displays usually sit in front of a keyboard just below the space bar.

Some modern phones can connect to braille displays and may allow you to operate some, or all, of the functions using either the phone’s keyboard or that of the braille display if it has one.

What should I look for when buying one?

Seika braille display | © RNIBBraille displays are expensive so it is recommended that you try before you buy. Trade shows will have a selection of models, and manufacturers and resellers should be happy to tell you when they will exhibit at a trade show near you.

If using a braille display with a mobile phone, the number of phone functions accessible from the braille display will depend on the phone and its software.

If you are a Bluetooth user, check whether all of the phone’s functions are accessible from the braille display and if using a Bluetooth connection ask if the method to reconnect Bluetooth is accessible.

Possible stockists

Please note: the list is not exhaustive and Sense is not responsible for the content of the external sites nor do we endorse the products mentioned.

Force Ten
RNIB
Sight and Sound
TechReady

First published: Tuesday 22 May 2012
Updated: Friday 28 February 2014