[Athen] Braille displays: what would you recommend

Deborah Armstrong armstrongdeborah at fhda.edu
Thu Jan 30 10:21:02 PST 2020

I'm trying to decide on Braille displays for our college. I want one for my office - I'm a user - and one for our proctored testing area . I also want to buy another one for moving around between our access technology lab, library or a tutoring center - wherever a student might need to access it.

As a Braille user, I know a couple of things: Baum displays were durable and I was quite annoyed when they went bankrupt and ours can no longer get repaired. I also know that 14 cells is fine for tweeting and texting but an inconvenient pain for studying and reading. So I want 40 cells if possible.

I also know that all the built-in features like note-taking can be useful in a classroom but a disaster for test proctoring. We won't be loaning these to students to take home because they are so delicate, but of course we will let them use the displays.

I also know that there's a significant learning curve for most displays. So many buttons and if you press the wrong one surprises occur.

So ideally I want simple, 40 cels, easy to use and hard to break. Not always easy to find!

Brailliant BI

Humanware has a great reputation, but so did Baum and look what happened to them. Our regular vendor would like us to buy this one.

Basic Braille:

Looks very easy to use, but it's another German company who just has a U.S. distributor.

Braille Edge:

You know I don't need a Braille display to "manage my life"I just need ones that display Braille! But they keep trying to win the features war. Hims is a Korean company that has really stormed the market. I hope they last! My vendor really loves this one; wonder what his commission is!

Freedom Scientific Focus 40 Blue

I'd buy this if it was my money. But our local regular vendor is annoyed with FS because they no longer support dealers. I hate to stiff my regular vendor and this display is complex to use.

Orbit Reader 20

Cheap! But only 20 cells. Easy to use, relatively. But it has an SD card; students could easily stick their exam answers on it. Also a slow refresh rate.

Alva 640

Also not easy to use. And I can't even find a price.

QBraille XL

Our vendor loves this one! Thinks it's ideal for a lab because it has keys for Windows, enter, tab etc. My opinion: blind college students need to learn to use a QWERTY keyboard, but maybe I'm being rigid. Has lots of note-taking built in and I found it kind of big compared to others.

All these support Windows, Linux, IOS, Mac and all common screen readers. Remember many Braille displays still in use no longer exist to purchase.

Your thoughts and other recommendations welcome.


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