Skip to Content

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 a variety of operating systems.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?


Find the Tools You Need and Support AFB at the Same Time

The Chicago Lighthouse will donate a portion of your eligible purchases back to AFB. Just select the Chicago Lighthouse product links to support AFB with any purchase!

There are 6 Products in the Category

Product Table

Product NameProduct DescriptionDistributor ContactImage/Multimedia Available?
Braille+ Mobile ManagerSmall, Linux-based PDA with a 30-gigabyte hard drive and wir...
IconSmall, Linux-based PDA with a 30-gigabyte hard drive and wir...
PAC Mate Omni QX400 Portable PDA with a QWERTY-style keyboard. A detachable brai...
PAC Mate Omni QX420 Portable PDA with a QWERTY-style keyboard and 40-cell braill...
PAC Mate Omni QX440Portable PDA with a QWERTY-style keyboard and 40-cell brail...
VoiceNote Apex QT Built-in options are at your fingertips to access Web pages,...

Support the AccessWorld Product Database

AFB relies on individual donors like you to support our free information, programs, and research. Please consider making a donation today!