[Athen] Does anyone have experience using Robobraille?

Ron Stewart ronrstewart at gmail.com
Thu Feb 19 20:44:26 PST 2015

Having been involved in the development of some of these systems I need to make a few comments.

The SCRIBE system that was developed for Stanford was a highly customized and localized installed system. Sensus are no longer doing customized solutions as was alluded to, and they appear also to not be keeping their system in line with the current RoboBraille versioning which is the backbone for their system.

The entire system is based on a "cloud" system that is based in a foreign country as is the ClaroRead system. This may be a legal problem in states that have vendor preference requirements. It is more importantly a significant disaster recovery issue if the system fails or collapses, and we have seen major cloud system failures over the last few years.

They are an entirely internet based system that require high bandwidth connectivity. What are you going to do when the internet fails or you are limited to low bandwidth connections?

There are licensing issues with some of the components in the system that are yet to be clarified. The system is using GPL licensed components that need to provide assurance that no copy write or commercial licensing requirements are being violated for the use of the components outside of the EU.

What is being provided should never be considered to be student ready material. As has already been stated "garbage in garbage out"> Actually it is more significant than that it is "proper source file in, proper content out" with editing.

In no way am I saying don’t use these system. They are fairly inexpensive for now and they can produce usable files if the necessary workflow is in place. You also need to work with your IT folks to insure that necessary backup systems are in place to insure that necessary data is not lost, and that incremental backup for the data is occurring on a regular basis.

If you are using files from the system repositories that they are providing you need to insure that you are in compliance with necessary legal reproduction and redistribution restrictions for the use of individuals with print disabilities.

It is really a buyer beware solution since these system are being sold as piece of mind and for me from a compliance and pedagogical quality issue it is nearly not as simple as it has been presented.

Ron Stewart

-----Original Message-----
From: athen-list [mailto:athen-list-bounces at mailman13.u.washington.edu] On Behalf Of Sean J Keegan
Sent: Thursday, February 19, 2015 5:16 PM
To: Access Technology Higher Education Network
Subject: Re: [Athen] Does anyone have experience using Robobraille?

Hi Debi,

Just a note - Sensus Access is an alternate version of Robobraille. Last I checked, the Robobraille version is more up-to-date in its functionality.

We built a customized version of the Robobraille platform here at Stanford that we call SCRIBE (https://oae.stanford.edu/scribe-project). It is different than Robobraille in that it is hosted onsite and is not the cloud-based version of the tool. The reason we did that is because the cloud-based version of Robobraille did not exist at the time and much of what was experienced here led to that solution.

My opinion - stick to a cloud-based model. It can be a total pain to replicate such a service onsite (albeit amazingly fun and educational).

As Gaeir mentioned, one consideration of the platform is garbage in/garbage out...although I have joked sometimes that it might be more accessible garbage! There are various factors that come into play with such a system, but a critical point is that this platform is *not* intended to be a replacement for an alternate format program at your institution. Rather, it is a solution by which students may obtain a quick conversion of academic materials into his/her preferred alternate format. We hear from students routinely that they need something fast and accurate, but it does not need to be perfect, and we have found the Robobraille solution to fit that need at this time.

This conversation came up about two years ago and there are still relevant posts on this topic in the ATHEN archives. Joshua Hori and I posted some messages on the Robobraille discussion back then:

Joshua's message: https://mailman13.u.washington.edu/mailman/htdig/athen-list/2013-November/007843.html

Sean's message: https://mailman13.u.washington.edu/mailman/htdig/athen-list/2013-November/007850.html

The full thread of the discussion starts with a very good question:

Just as an FYI (and to remain vendor neutral) - there is now another cloud-based solution that has emerged called ClaroRead Cloud from the developers of the Claro Read software program. I have not tested the system at this time, but more information is available at: http://www.clarosoftware.com/cloud

Take care,

----- Original Message -----
From: "Gaeir Dietrich" <gdietrich at htctu.net>
To: "Access Technology Higher Education Network" <athen-list at u.washington.edu>
Sent: Thursday, February 19, 2015 10:17:57 AM
Subject: Re: [Athen] Does anyone have experience using Robobraille?

I am sure that Sean will weigh in at some point as Stanford has implemented a customized Sensus Access (Robobraille) system.

I am looking at a similar customized package for the CCCs, and I literally just started testing (yesterday ;-). The biggest thing to remember about this service, from my perspective, is that the system is automated—so garbage in, garbage out.

My intention is actually not to use it for braille (we already have pretty good systems for braille in place in the CCCs) but for DAISY, MP3, and accessible PDF documents. I like the fact that Sensus provides a cloud-based solution—removing the time consuming rendering of TTS from local machines so that the CPUs are freed for other work.


Gaeir (rhymes with "fire") Dietrich
HTCTU Director


From: athen-list [mailto:athen-list-bounces at mailman13.u.washington.edu] On Behalf Of theoldog at gmail.com
Sent: Thursday, February 19, 2015 6:37 AM
To: athen-list at u.washington.edu
Subject: [Athen] Does anyone have experience using Robobraille?

We are currently evaluating Robobraille and would appreciate hearing any feedback from anyone using it or Sensusaccess.

Thanks in advance for any and all comments!


debi.turner at humber.ca

Debi Turner

Assistive Technician, Disability Services

Humber ITAL

Student Success & Engagement

Room A120, Lakeshore Campus

3199 Lake Shore Blvd. W.

Toronto, Ontario

M8V 1K8

Tel: (416) 675-6622, ext. 3268

Fax: (416) 252-8800

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