Slate and Stylus Video Transcript
Narrator: The slate and stylus are inexpensive, mechanical, and portable tools that enable users to write braille just as pencil and paper are used for writing print. It's the oldest braille writing method available and was invented by Louis Braille himself. When the inventor began to create braille, he used an awl to punch dots into paper. Over time, the awl's shape was modified into a stylus tipped with metal and equipped with a pear-shaped or saddle-shaped handle for ease of use.
Slate and stylus devices are available in a variety of shapes and sizes. Size is determined by how many lines the slate has available and how many cells there are in each line.
Most often, slates consist of two flat pieces of metal or plastic hinged together on one side and containing four rows of 28 braille cells. They range from single line slates with one short line of braille, to full page slates that will cover an entire sheet of paper. Users open the slate and clamp a sheet of paper between the two flat surfaces. The uppermost panel has rows of rectangular shapes stamped into it and tiny scallops that form the edges of these rectangles. The lower panel is covered with six dot rectangles pressed into the metal and pointing downward.
The indentations in the slate are the same shape and size as a braille cell and they prevent the stylus from punching a hole in the paper when the dots are embossed.
The stylus consists of a piece of pointed metal with a plastic or wooden handle. Users emboss braille by pressing the tip of the stylus down through the rectangular openings. The scallops along the edges of the stylus help users to align the tip with the dot beneath as they apply pressure to emboss braille on the paper.
Since braille is read from left to right with the dots raised, a slate and stylus requires users to punch the braille dots into the paper from right to left.
Pocket slates are highly portable while desk slates are great for beginners who have trouble moving the slate down the paper. They are really easy to use.
A slate and stylus device can cost anywhere from $5 to $85. Whichever types of devices users decide to buy, a slate and stylus will provide them with an inexpensive and convenient tool for writing braille.