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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

Personal Digital Assistants (Speech)

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?

7 Products in Category

Product Table

Product NameProduct DescriptionDistributor Contact
Braille+ Mobile ManagerSmall, Linux-based PDA with a 30-gigabyte hard drive and wireless capability. Includes an address book, calendar, word processor, MP3/DAISY player, voice recorder, journal, web browser and e-mail. Available with a docking station. Also features a braille keyboard.
IconSmall, Linux-based PDA with a 30-gigabyte hard drive and wireless capability. Includes an address book, calendar, word processor, MP3/DAISY player, voice recorder, journal, web browser and e-mail. Available with a docking station.
PAC Mate Omni QX400 Portable PDA with a QWERTY-style 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 QX420 Portable PDA with a QWERTY-style keyboard and 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.
PAC Mate Omni QX440Portable PDA with a QWERTY-style keyboard and 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.
TADI Talking OrganizerPDA that uses a keyboard and voice recording for input and speech for output. Has a phone book, appointment diary, notepad, calculator, alarm clock, timer, and five hours of recording time. sales@maxiaids.com
Voice SensePDA with speech output and a braille keyboard. Features a word processor, appointment calendar, phone book, media player, FM radio and scientific calculator. sales@gwmicro.com

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