A braille translator takes a document and converts it into a braille file. The braille file can then be sent to a braille printer or read on a braille display or a personal digital assistant.
The first step in converting a computer file into a braille document is to choose the type of braille required—computer braille, a one-to-one representation of what appears on the computer screen; noncontracted (grade 1) braille, which consists of letters, numbers, and punctuation marks; or contracted (grade 2) braille, which includes contractions of common combinations of letters and words. To create a contracted braille file, a braille translation program takes the computer text file, inserts the proper contractions, and formats the document properly for the braille page. Some braille translation programs are available free of charge and may be downloaded from the Internet; other programs may cost up to $895.
The main questions to ask when purchasing braille translators are
• Is the translator compatible with your computer’s operating system?
• Do you need multiple languages?