What is a Refreshable Braille Display?
Refreshable braille displays are electronic braille devices that create braille characters on a flat surface by moving small pins in and out of the device. Think of it as a keyboard designed specifically for those who cannot see the computer monitor. You can enter commands and text through the braille display and it will communicate text and images from the monitor to you by changing or refreshing braille characters on the keyboard. Many visually disabled people use electronic braille devices in conjunction with a speech synthesizer for the best experience. Braille displays make navigating the internet, drafting documents, and using a computer in general easier and more entertaining for the blind and visually impaired.
In this article, we offer a review of five braille displays that we feel are the best on the market. We’ll particularly share with you each display’s features and price range.
5 Best Braille Displays for the Blind or Visually Impaired
Quite a few braille displays are available, making it difficult to decide which one is right for you. Choosing the best braille display depends on your visual disability, budget, and what you’ll be doing with your computer. With this in mind, here are 5 of the best braille displays available.
The HumanWare Brailliant BI 40 made our list because it’s a lightweight device you can use for your desktop, laptop, tablet, and smartphone. Key commands on both sides of the device and a simple design make it easy to use. In addition, it allows you to operate your computer strictly from the braille display, so you can navigate the internet, read, and write with speed and efficiency. We also love that it can be used on Windows, Mac, and Android devices. At almost $3,000, the HumanWare Brailliant BI 40 isn’t the least expensive braille display available, but is well worth the investment.
A more affordable option is the HIMS Smart Beetle Bluetooth USB UltraPortable Display Keyboard which cost less than $1,000. But HIMS’ Beetle didn’t make our list just because of the price, its small, compact design make it easily portable which is ideal for students or those who travel. We also like the HIMS Smart Beetle Bluetooth USB UltraPortable Display Keyboard because it can be paired via Bluetooth and a USB drive. As if that’s not enough to love, the Smart Beetle is compatible with some of our favorite screen reading programs like JAWS, System Access, and Apple VoiceOver.
The Braille EDGE 40 by MAGNIFYING AIDS has landed on our list because its versatility and exceptional features make it one of the best braille displays on the market. Like most refreshable braille displays, it has Bluetooth abilities, key commands on both sides of the device, and it’s portable. What sets it apart is that it offers users a wide range of languages, and a built-in calculator, stopwatch, and countdown timer. At $2,400, the cost for a Braille EDGE 40 by MAGNIFYING AIDS is about the same as many of its competitors.
We’ve chosen the Focus braille displays by Freedom Scientific because there are four devices in the series that start with basic features and progress to the most advanced features available for braille displays. This includes Bluetooth capabilities, compatibility with Windows, Mac, smartphones, and Android, and a wide range of braille characters. The Focus line comes from Freedom Scientific, the makers of the screen reading program JAWS. For one of their braille displays, you’re looking at $1,300 to over $7,000 depending on which version you buy.
Last, but certainly not least on our list is the Orbit Reader 20. The Orbit Reader 20 allows you to read files on an SD card without utilizing a computer and connect to computers via Bluetooth. You can also take notes and recharge the Orbit Reader’s batteries. Its small, lightweight design make it ideal for portable use and the Orbit Reader’s $449 price tag makes it the least expensive braille display on our list.
It’s important to consider your lifestyle before you choose a braille display. For instance, if you work from your computer or utilize your computer a lot in general, it’s wise to invest in one of the more advanced displays that will have many more braille characters than the basic versions. If you’re a student or on a budget and just need something to read text, then one of the basic braille displays would be great for you.
Cross link to screen reading programs