What Is A Braille Display And How It Is Used
Reading your electronic documents using your hands instead of your eyes may sound almost impossible. However, this is actually what many blind persons do. This is done through a device known as a Braille display.
Braille displays are hardware that enable users to read in Braille the text displayed on the computer screen. Using this device, blind people can navigate through the computer’s desktop, create and edit documents, and browse the Internet.
A Braille display can also be called a Braille terminal.
How Does a Braille Display Work
The user has to connect the Braille display to the computer or any other device via a USB connection. Braille displays may also use other types of connections.
Most of the time, the user does not have to install a driver for the Braille display. This is because there aren’t many types of Braille displays, and screen readers can support most of them.
Once connected to the computer, the Braille display will acquire the currently highlighted text on the screen. The screen reader will then translate the text in Braille and the device will display it on its built-in Braille cells.
To create the Braille dots in each cell, Braille displays use metal or nylon pins. Braille displays are refreshable. This means that when the user moves to a specific line of text, the device displays the text’s Braille equivalent. And when the user moves to another line, the device automatically displays that new line in Braille.
Most Braille displays have eight dots in each cell. The six dots are for the actual Braille character, while the two dots at the bottom are normally used to denote the cursor, or the format of the text, for example highlights.
Sizes of Braille Displays
The sizes of Braille displays depend mainly on the number of cells they contain. Most Braille displays have 40 cells. However, these devices can have anywhere from 12 to 84 cells.
Portable Braille displays may contain 12 to 18 cells. These Braille displays can be used to read text in mobile devices. Desktop Braille displays contain 80 to 84 cells, which match the length of a typical line of text in a word document. These are used mainly with desktop computers.
Comparison with Other Assistive Devices
The Braille display is just one of the devices used by blind people in accessing the computer and other electronic hardware. Apart from this device, blind people also use synthetic speech provided by screen readers. This application reads electronic text in a semi-human voice.
The main difference between Braille displays and synthetic speech is that Braille displays actually let users read text content. Screen readers only let users hear the text on the screen. Also, Braille displays are appropriate for deaf-blind computer users. Braille displays can also be useful when viewing larger tables of data, or reading text wher the language of the text often changes, for example in a dictionary.