Thanks to the technological advancements, today a blind person can install digital braille keyboards on their smart devices like mobiles and tablets. Some braille displays too come with a braille keyboard. A blind user may also install a special keyboard driver to turn their standard keyboard into a braille keyboard. Do you know all these modern keyboards are based on the concept of Perkins Brailler?
Let us give you an insight into the usability of Perkins Brailler and Perkins Braille Style Keyboards for blind people.
History of Perkins Brailler
David Abraham, a teacher at the Perkins School for the Blinds, designed a device for blind students to easily type Braille in the year 1939. The device went into production and became available to the public in 1951. Hence, Perkins Brailler is said to have been produced in 1951.
Perkins Brailler: How it Works
The Brailler was like a manual typewriter but with very limited keys. The device contained six keys representing the six dots of braille, a space key, a backspace key and a line space key. Like manual typewriters, it contained two side knobs to advance the paper and a carriage return lever. To type using this Brailler, the user needed to place their index, middle and ring fingers of both hands to the space bar located in the center. The three keys on the left represented dots 1, 2 and 3. Similarly, the three keys on the right represented dots 4, 5 and 6. The far-left key was used to advance to the next line and the far-right key was a backspace key. When the embossing head reaches the end a bell notifies the user with a ‘ding’ sound. The device created 25 lines with 40 characters on each line on an 11*11 ½ inch paper sheet.
Advancements in the Perkins Brailler
Perkins Brailler significantly eased the typing method for persons with visual impairments. It was so easy that it is still the most widely used mechanical braille writer in the world. The Brailler has changed very little over these years, except for its price. People still use Perkins Brailler to type Braille on paper.
For the individuals who need to use digital devices like laptops, mobiles and tablets, the same concept has been used to make Perkins Braille Style Keyboard. These keyboards, whether digital or physical, contain six keys representing the six dots of braille along with space, backspace and line space.
There are special drivers that can be installed to use the standard QWERTY keyboards as braille keyboards. Typically, the keys F, D, S are used as 1, 2, 3 and J, K, L represent dots 4, 5, 6 respectively. Key A and ; (semicolon) works like keys 7 and 8 of braille keyboard where 7 represents backspace and 8 represents enter (line space) key. Certain keyboard drivers also give the option of one-hand typing mode.
You can find various digital braille keyboards for Android as well as iOS designed on the basis of Perkins Brailler.
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"Perkins Brailler: Base of all Modern Braille Keyboards." (n.d.). Wecapable.com. Retrieved October 28, 2021 from https://wecapable.com/perkins-brailler-braille-typing/