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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

Personal Digital Assistants (Braille)

Personal digital assistants (PDAs) are small, portable devices for storing information with the use of braille or typewriter keyboards. The stored information may be accessed through a built-in speech synthesizer, a braille display, or both. In the past, similar devices that were less powerful and less versatile than PDAs were referred to as braille notetakers, which were used for storing names and telephone numbers, keeping track of appointments, and taking notes. In addition to these functions, PDAs provide advanced word processing, web browsing, and other functions. The term “personal digital assistant” describes the devices listed in this section much more accurately.
   PDAs allow you to get rid of a lot of scraps of paper or cassette tapes you have used for trying to keep track of information. No PDA with a screen has been developed for people with low vision, so a person with low vision should consider a PDA with speech output. Someone who knows braille will probably be more comfortable using a device with braille output. For your convenience, PDAs with braille and speech output are listed separately here from PDAs with speech output only.
   Current PDAs are based on Microsoft’s Windows CE operating system, a version of Windows specifically designed for handheld computers. They generally include a simple word processor, calendar, address list, and e-mail functions. Data entered into a PDA may be transferred to a larger computer with more memory, reviewed using the built-in speech synthesizer or braille display, or printed on a braille or inkprint printer. A basic PDA without a braille display costs between $2,000 and $3,000. A PDA with a braille display is typically double the price.
   There are a number of questions to ask when purchasing personal digital assistants, including the following:
•   How does the PDA connect to your system?
•   Does it have expandable memory?
•   Is add-on software available for it?
•   Do you require multi-language support?
•   Do you need one-handed mode?

16 Products in Category

Product Table

Product NameProduct DescriptionDistributor ContactImage/Multimedia Available?
Braille Lite M20 and M4020-cell (M20) or 40-cell (M40) PDA with a built-in 56K modem, fully adjustable speech output, POP3 e-mail, and word processing capabilities. Also includes WinDisk software which allows the user to transfer files to a personal computer.
Braille Plus 18 Second GenerationBraille Plus 18 combines a high-quality braille keyboard and refreshable braille display with an advanced mobile platform and specialized accessible software to create the world's first Android smart phone designed for blind students and professionals. Improve retention, enjoy privacy, and increase literacy with the 18-cell refreshable braille display.
Braille Sense PlusA PDA with braille and speech output and a braille keyboard. Features a word processor, appointment calendar, phone book, media player and scientific calculator. Can be used as a braille display and speech synthesizer when connected to a personal computer.
Braille Sense U2The New Braille Sense U2 provides power and speed in a notetaker. Powerful performance with faster processing Boasting a 1GHz Mobile CPU and a 32GB flashdisk, Braille Sense U2 offers rapid data processing combined with as much memory as you desire.
Braille to Go (B2G)The Braille to Go (B2G) is a 20-cell, 8-dot braille computer is lightweight (20.3 ounces), and offers a respectable array of connectivity features. Based on Android 4.2 (Jellybean), the B2G can be useD alone or connected to an iOS or Android phone. Hardware features include 802.11g Wi-Fi networking. Bluetooth, USB host, and micro-USB ports, a 5-MP camera for OCR, an SD card slot, stereo microphone, and stereo speakers. NBP estimates that the 5400nMh battery should last one to two days under normal use. A slot provides support for GSM or CDMA wireless radio (not yet available, and sold separately.) The detail specifications are:
  • 20 cell, 8 dot braille display with cursor routing, and forward & back keys.
  • 8 dot Braille keyboard for input, with an imbedded cursor navigation pad.
  • Bluetooth to use with computers, headsets, and other hands-free devices.
  • WiFi connectivity to access local networks or other WiFi hotspots.
  • GPS receiver to identify the user's location, and to access navigation apps.
  • Compass for general direction and navigation.
  • Two USB connectors (standard 2.0 and micro-USB) for connecting to computer devices and for charging.
  • Camera: besides photos, this feature is useful for many apps, e.g. currency and color identifiers, and bar code reading.
  • Built in speakers and microphone for apps or calls.
  • Speech input and output, synthetic speech output if the user wants to listen instead of read braille, and speech input for voice searches, dialing, and voice short cuts.
  • EarPhone/headset jack.
  • Mp3 music player.
  • Video output connector for classroom or business setting where the blind user may need a visual display for a sighted person.
  • Accelerometer, a chip used in games, which can detect tilting and orientation of the b2g and respond when it is tapped or rotated.
  • Memory: 32GB of internal storage a standard SD card slot to create backups or load data.
  • Android operating system with open source platform found in many smart phones.
  • Sierra Wireless Cellular Phone Card (OPTIONAL): The AirPrime MC9090 with Audio Mini Card is a wireless UMTS and CDMA-based modem that operates on all of the main mobile networks in North America with this one module.
BrailleNote Apex BT 32 Built-in options are at your fingertips to access Web pages, download e-mails or retrieve files from your network. Enjoy the convenience of wireless accessories and connectivity to keyboards. Printers, embossers, hard drives, flash drives and more, it?s a snap to connect to one of the three available USB ports. Keep an updated list of personal contacts and appointments by synchronizing information with your PC. Use your BrailleNote?s keyboard to navigate with your computer screen reader using the Braille Terminal Mode.
BrailleNote TouchThe BrailleNote Touch allows you to enter braille on the touch screen, guided by HumanWare's patent-pending TouchBraille calibration system, which intelligently determines where your fingers are onscreen, and which dot combinations you're trying to make with them. The BrailleNote Touch is 10 inches wide, with braille cells in front, and a 7-inch touchscreen behind the cells. To the left and right of the 7-inch screen are additional touch-sensitive areas available for braille input. If you would rather enter braille with traditional keys, put the notetaker in the included Smart Case, which is topped by buttons that activate the touch surface, when used to enter braille. Like HumanWare's other braille devices, the BrailleNote Touch uses a version of the KeySoft operating environment. Though familiar, the new KeySoft has been rewritten to support the advanced features of the new device. The device features two USB ports, an SD card slot, and HDMI port. There's an 8 MP camera, and a pair of stereo speakers. 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and a GPS receiver provide connectivity, and the device also includes an accelerometer. HumanWare touts the fact that the BrailleNote Touch is Google Play certified, which means its specifications match those of standard Google-approved tablets.
Braillino with BluetoothBraille PDA that can be connected to off-the-shelf mobile phones and organizers to provide access to functions such as text messaging and e-mail. May be used with a docking station.
Canute Electronic Braille ReaderThe Bristol Braille's Canute Braille reader is a multi-line device that the developers hope can become a "Kindle for blind people." The Mk8 prototype, available for hands-on demos at CSUN, is about the size of a desktop scanner, and features eight lines of 32 braille cells each. That's 256 cells per page, at a cost estimated by Bristol Braille of $3 per cell. The Canute isn't a braille display, but a reading oriented device to which you add BRF files via USB. The multi-line design makes the device an interesting option for viewing tabular information such as a calendar, or computer code.
ElBrailleElbraile is a full mobile portable computer running on Windows 10 together with Jaws for Windows. It contains a docking station, integrated with Freedom Scientific?s Focus 14 Braille display. This docking station contains the perkins style keyboard and all the navigation options that you find on the Focus 14. Detail Specs:
  • Windows 10 32bit
  • Jaws 17
  • 1.8 GHz Quad-core atom processor
  • 2 GB of ram
  • 64 GB SSD drive
  • Built-in 32 gb sd card ? not usable by user, for the OS
  • Expansion card slot up to 256 gb storage
  • built-in microphone
  • Stereo speakers
  • Vibration motor Device vibrates and beeps.when being turned on, shutting down, when placed on charge, etc.
  • SMS messaging capability
  • You can also make and receive phonecalls.
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • 3G modem (Micro sim card required)
  • Wi-Fi 801.11 a/b/g/n
  • accelerometer
  • gyro,
  • compass
  • GPS
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • USB port ? used for external storage, full qwerty keyboard etc.
  • 20 hours of battery life.
NeoBrailleThe NeoBraille is 32-cell, 8-dot Android-based unit sports 3 GB of RAM, 64 GB flash memory, AT&T LTE, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, two USB ports, and a mini-HDMI port. It weighs in at 1.5 pounds, and measures 9.25 by 5.9 by 0.75 inches. It uses the Android 5.1 (Lollipop) operating system, and includes a suite of productivity and entertainment apps created or provided by Neo Access. The detail specifications are:
  • Braille Cell 32 Braille Cells
  • OS / CPU Android 5.1 / Samsung Exynos 7420 (2.1GHz) Octa core
  • Ram 3 GB
  • Internal Memory 64 GB Flash Memory
  • External Storage MicroSD 128 GB (Option)
  • Audio Internal Stereo speaker / Mic port / Earphone port
  • Microphone Internal Mic(mono), External Stereo Mic
  • Keyboard 8 Key Perkins keyboard / 2 space bars
  • Navigation Keys 4-Way navigation key with Scroll Wheel/Select button
  • Thumb button 2 Thumb buttons
  • Function key 4 Function keys (Quick Search/Home/Menu/Back)
  • USB 2 USB 2.0 Type-A,
Orbit Reader 20The Orbit Reader is a 20-cell, 8-dot display and simple notetaker, whose low price is possible due to its unique refreshable cell technology and slimmed-down feature set. There's Bluetooth support, an SD card slot, and a USB port, but no Wi-Fi, for example. The device weighs less than 1 pound, and battery life is listed in the specs as one day of use. The detail specifications are:
  • 20 eight-dot refreshable braille cells
  • Eight braille input keys and space bar
  • Five-way arrow and select control keys
  • 2 panning control bars
  • Micro-B USB charging/communication port
  • SD card slot
  • Power button
  • Bluetooth radio
PAC Mate Omni BX400Portable PDA with a braille keyboard. A detachable braille display can be added. Includes JAWS for Windows CE for speech output and Windows Mobile 6.0 with Pocket versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, Internet Explorer plus Calendar, E-mail, Contacts, FSEdit (braille word processor), FSCalc (financial and scientific calculator), MediaPlayer and other applications. Full desktop synchronization through ActiveSync.
PAC Mate Omni BX420Portable PDA with Perkins-style braille keyboard with a 20-cell braille display. Includes JAWS for Windows CE for speech output and Windows Mobile 6.0 with Pocket versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, Internet Explorer plus Calendar, E-mail, Contacts, FSEdit (braille word processor), FSCalc (financial and scientific calculator), MediaPlayer and other applications. Full desktop synchronization through ActiveSync.
PAC Mate Omni BX440Portable PDA with Perkins-style braille keyboard with a 40-cell braille display. Includes JAWS for Windows CE for speech output and Windows Mobile 6.0 with Pocket versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, Internet Explorer plus Calendar, E-mail, Contacts, FSEdit (braille word processor), FSCalc (financial and scientific calculator), MediaPlayer and other applications. Full desktop synchronization through ActiveSync.
Pronto!Pronto! is a portable braille notetaker, that is offered with either 18 or 40 refreshable braille cells. Both models feature braille input courtesy of an 8-dot braille keyboard, speech output, and a suite of apps such as a word processor, spreadsheet viewer, and more. The 40-cell version features a QWERTY keyboard that the user can swap in and out with the braille keyboard, even when the device is switched on. Sales department at BAUM USA

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