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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

Braille Writing Tools and Tools for Tactile Graphics

Writing Braille

Students who read braille also usually write in braille, using a variety of low- or high-tech devices. If your child writes in braille on a computer or personal digital assistant (PDA), the teacher of students with visual impairments can use braille translation software, which converts the text and prints it out for you, the teacher, or anyone else who reads print.

Slate and Stylus

The slate and stylus are inexpensive, portable tools used to write braille—just the way paper and pencil are used for writing print. Slates are made of two flat pieces of metal or plastic held together by a hinge at one end. The slate opens up to hold paper. The top part has rows of openings that are the same shape and size as a braille cell. The back part has rows of indentations in the size and shape of braille cells. The stylus is a pointed piece of metal with a plastic or wooden handle. The stylus is used to punch or emboss the braille dots onto the paper held in the slate. The indentations in the slate prevent the stylus from punching a hole in the paper when the dots are embossed. Slates and styluses come in many shapes and sizes.

Slate and Stylus Videos


Mechanical braillewriters work a little bit like typewriters. They have six keys—one for each dot in a braille cell—a space bar, a backspace key, a carriage return, and a line feed key. Braillewriters use heavyweight paper. The most popular braillewriter is the Perkins braillewriter, made by the Perkins School for the Blind in Massachusetts.

One high-tech device devoted to writing in print is the Mountbatten Brailler. The Mountbatten Brailler combines a mechanical braillewriter and computer in one device. It has the same keys as a braillewriter, but the keys do not require as much pressure to operate. As your child uses the Mountbatten, she can feel the braille paper to see what she has written. The Mountbatten has computer technology built into it so that files can be stored and retrieved at a later time, and the device can also "speak" aloud what is brailled. The Mountbatten is typically used with younger children or with children who have additional disabilities and limited hand strength.

To view a short video about the Perkins braille writing device, please click on one of the following links.

Perkins Brailler

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