The braille display that blind people have dreamed about for years, that has been hinted at for at least that long, has finally become a reality! the orbit Reader 20 from the
American Printing House for the Blind
has made its debut at the blindness conventions that are taking place across the U.S. over early July.
I recently attended the
American Counsel of the Blind’s
convention held in Sparks, Nevada.
The folks at APH had 20 Orbit Readers that would go to 20 people who signed up to have a chance to purchase the device. I was fortunate enough to be one of the first to sign up and was picked to purchase the display.
The display is a thick square with a keyboard on top. Housed on the left, are dots 1-2-3 and dots 4-5-6 on the right. In between dots 1-4, is a 4-way navigational pad with up, down, left, and right arrows and a select button in the middle.
Below that, is a spacebar with dot 7 on the left, and dot 8 on the right.
There are panning keys on either side of the display, and then there’s the 20-cell display at the bottom.
On the back left of the unit is a power button, then an SD card slot, (which you can insert standard cars from 4 to 32 GB in size), then a micro-USB port for charging and data transfer if you choose to connect the display to the computer.
It’s a very compact unit with note-taking capabilities and the ability to be a braille display for a mobile device or a computer. The file types the display can read are .brf, .brl, and text files which will show up as 8-dot computer braille.
After using the display when I could snag a free moment at convention, I found it very impressive. The braille is crisp, and the refresh rate, (which some have expressed concerns about it being slow), is quite fast! I have been reading braille since I was a very young child, so being able to read quickly was something I knew would be a priority.
When the pins refresh, it is quite noticeable, and you are able to hear the dots popping up. However, with speed not being sacrificed, it seems a very fair trade. The keyboard on the display is very pleasant to type on, and you are able to get going at quite a nice clip.
Being that the display can be used as a storage device, a stand-alone note-taker, or as a terminal for outputting braille to your computer or smart phone/tablet, it is quite a versatile device for under $500 U.S.
After long-time discussions, beta testing in various parts of the world, and so much eager anticipation, the Orbit Reader 20 has finally come to be. It is absolutely worth getting excited about, and will only improve with time.