Braille dots just like letters, and numbers to a computer

Post date: 
Thursday, 15 December 2016

How does a blind person who uses braille (the system of raised dots felt by fingertip) interact with today's online world of bytes and pixels?

Easy! Just like a sighted person using an ordinary keyboard, a special event organised by sight loss charity RNIB Scotland will hear this morning.

Modern braille-writing equipment can connect seamlessly with personal computers and mobile devices like tablets and smartphones, while text-reading software can vocalise back to you what you've inputted.

"Dots, letters, numbers - it's all just input information to a computer," Ruth Gallagher Carr from Sight and Sound Technology, a leading UK provider of hardware and software to the visually impaired, will tell people attending the session in Edinburgh.

"Programmed with the right software, it will interpret them as they've been instructed. So blind people who are braille-users can activity engage with online just as much as a sighted person can."

RNIB Scotland's Online Today project, which is organising today's session, aims to open up the digital world to those who might have assumed it was beyond them.

Sheila Sneddon, the project's manager in Scotland, said: "Many people with sight loss are older, so perhaps less likely to be as familiar as younger people with going online. Some will be braille-users who will feel doubly removed from new technology. So this event will show how braille can translate into input information for devices.

"New technology is now absolutely embedded into modern life. Even basic necessities like applying for welfare benefits and receiving healthcare appointments are now increasingly done online. But if you can't actually get online, more and more services and bargains will be out of your reach."

The free session will run from 10am till 12 noon at RNIB Scotland's Edinburgh headquarters at 12 Hillside Crescent.

"People will be able to come along for a demonstration of braille displays," says Sheila, "and then there will be tea and coffee and a chance to ask questions and try things out for yourself."