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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

Braille Mouse

Hello! I'm a sighted engineer who is interested in creating devices to improve accessibility for impaired people.

I attempted to learn braille to gain insight but ran into some problems. It's very difficult to obtain braille books. No libraries around me offered them. I eventually found a website that sells them but they are expensive and the selection lacking. This is a shame since I love to read and I'm sure many blind people do too.

Next problem, I grabbed my new braille book and felt around the pages. I can tell when there are few dots versus many but I am unable to imagine the dot pattern under my fingertip. Either my fingertips are not sensitive enough or my brain is tossing out the data before it reaches my conscious. My journey to learn braille ended here.

I have an idea for a braille e-reader type device that I'd like to get input on. I will try my best to explain it.

Imagine a regular computer mouse. Imagine the area of the mouse where your palm rests having six bumps like a braille character about 3 centimeters by 2 centimeters in size. These bumps are stationary but they can each vibrate independently. Braille characters could be vibrated into your palm one by one as if you were moving your finger over a line of text.

Being a computer mouse, the user could perhaps read what they are pointing at. Do you think this is a good idea? Can you imagine any problems this method of reading braille would have?

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Re: Braille Mouse

Re-inventing the wheel is frustrating. IBM developed a braille mouse 30 years ago and around the same time, the Trace Ctr. in Wisconsin developed an audio output talking mouse. Check them out.

Re: Braille Mouse

Thanks for the insight. Back to the drawing board.

Re: Braille Mouse

To learn Braille, most people require quite a bit of time learning how to recognize what they are feeling with their fingers. In our pre-braille texbooks, the entire first volume doesn't even have any braille to read. It is symbols and shapes and learning to follow the lines.

Vibrations would make it harder to feel the braille, rather than easier. When one reads Braille, they pass their fingers over the letters, and if they aren't sure, they can go back. The vibrations would be less definitely cues than the stationary dots. Additionally, the fingertips are the most sensitive parts, which is why they are usually used for reading. It is extremely difficult to learn to read Braille otherwise (although, a coworker of mine did teach someone how to read Braille with their tongue.....:O )

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