[nabs-l] New Perkins Brailler

Antonio Guimaraes aguimaraes at nbp.org
Wed Dec 10 16:11:07 UTC 2008

The major drawback of the brailler is that

*This brailler takes paper up to
8-1/2 inches wide and 14 inches long.*

good luck doing long math problems on one!

Antonio Guimaraes

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Ruby Polk (by way of David Andrews<dandrews at visi.com>)" 
<r.polk1 at sbcglobal.net>
To: <david.andrews at nfbnet.org>
Sent: Wednesday, December 10, 2008 3:53 AM
Subject: [nabs-l] New Perkins Brailler

> >From the Editor of the Matilda Ziegler Magazine for the blind.
> To All  Readers:
> It's a sunny morning in Watertown, MA, with a temperature in the mid-60s 
> and
> Mother Nature in the midst of her glorious autumnal show of color.  I'm on
> the well-manicured campus of Perkins School for the Blind, where I have 
> come
> for the introduction of a redesigned icon.
> Today would be the first opportunity for Perkins students- and me--to see
> the Next Generation Perkins/APH Brailler.
> I entered the stately Howe Building and made my way over squeaky-clean 
> tile
> floors to the auditorium, where students were awaiting the start of the
> presentation.
> Standing in front of a large, round wooden table was David Morgan, general
> manager of Perkins Products, the entity responsible for re-thinking the
> brailler.  On the table sat four of his brand-new creations, and David
> showed me the brailler's finer points as we discussed the design process.
> He explained that Perkins Products began conceptualizing an updated 
> brailler
> about three years ago, but the "real work" started a year later, with
> intensive user research in places like India, Mexico, South Africa and
> Malawi.  Researchers heard how dust and dirt can jam the machines in 
> India,
> how teachers in Malawi have just one brailler to pass around an entire
> school, and how American users wished for something easier to carry.
> Perkins engineers paid close attention to these comments, and they 
> responded
> by making their next-generation brailler more portable, with a lighter
> weight and a smaller size.  This machine weighs about 25 percent, or three
> pounds, less, and its footprint has been reduced, with dimensions that are
> 12 inches long, 10 inches wide and six inches high.  A new built-in handle
> in the base is easy to grip.  The brailler's keys have been redesigned to
> require less force, so the machine is more comfortable to use over a 
> longer
> period of time.  Keys are now lower to the table surface, making it easier
> to position fingers comfortably.
> The color of the keys has been changed to white, which contrasts with the
> brailler's colorful body, aiding those with low vision.  The new machine 
> is
> less noisy, and it has a muted end-of-line bell.  At the back of the
> brailler is a retractable reading rest, which holds the paper flat, making
> it easier to proofread.  Located on the front of the machine, margin 
> guides
> are easier to grasp and hold.  These are now easily accessible, and do not
> require reaching around to the back.  The paper-feed knobs have a flatter
> shape, making them easier to hold and turn.  This brailler takes paper up 
> to
> 8-1/2 inches wide and 14 inches long.
> I'm sure braillists will appreciate these many improvements, but I'm 
> betting
> that the most popular feature will be the easy-erase button.  Simply
> depressing one key deletes an incorrect cell, letting the user braille 
> over
> the original one.
> As you might expect, the Next Generation Perkins/APH Brailler, its 
> official
> name, looks and feels very different from the classic version, which 
> Perkins
> will continue to sell.
> Although the original design is cherished, it went unchanged for 57 years,
> and Perkins thought they were losing a lot of young people with it--that 
> it
> wasn't quite "cool enough," according to David.  Hip or not, the engineers
> saw no need to do a complete redesign, he said.  They kept everything that
> was great about the original and put it in new packaging, making the 
> machine
> lighter and more portable.
> Those familiar with the classic know it is constructed of heavy-duty 
> metal.
> The next- generation brailler still has mostly all-metal construction
> inside, and the same embossing mechanisms, but the exterior shell is made 
> of
> ABS plastic.  This polycarbonate is a high-impact engineered plastic, like
> that used on aircraft.  Perkins Products believes this plastic will prove 
> to
> be more durable.
> It certainly is more colorful, as the brailler's exterior housing comes in 
> a
> vivid shade similar to sky blue.
> This color, known as APH blue, will be the only one available until the
> spring, when there will be two more color choices: raspberry and midnight
> blue.
> How did the color and initials of American Printing House for the Blind 
> end
> up on a Perkins product?  David explained that APH actually had started
> designing its own brailler a few years ago.  After learning that Perkins 
> was
> already redesigning the classic brailler, APH decided to shelve its 
> project.
> They joined forces with the school and supported Perkins's redesign by
> underwriting much of the research and development costs.
> In exchange for the Printing House's contribution, the letters a p and h
> were added to the brailler's name, and APH blue was the first color to be
> offered.  They also have exclusive distribution rights within the United
> States and U.S. territories for the first six months of the product 
> launch.
> Buyers using Federal Quota Funds will have to make their purchases through
> APH.  By spring 2009, however, Perkins Products expects that all the
> resellers who carried its braillers in the past will offer the new one.
> The Next Generation Perkins/APH Brailler came on the United States market 
> in
> October at a price of $650, which, refreshingly, is $40 less than the
> classic.  It has a warranty of one year on parts and labor.  International
> orders will be accepted after the first of the year.  For developing
> countries with lower and middle incomes, purchase subsidies will be
> available, as they are for the classic model.
> Some of the next-generation braillers will undoubtedly end up back in the
> country where they were made.  While the components are mostly American,
> some parts are sourced from southeast Asia.  Final assembly takes place in
> India at an ISO 9001 factory, which meets U.S. standards, and about 80
> percent of its workers have some kind of disability.
> Perkins Products has developed a marketing strategy for this brailler, the
> centerpiece of which is a special Web site.  Perkinsbrailler.org features 
> a
> song written especially for the brailler by blind recording artist Raul
> Midon.  His "Next Generation" is a very catchy tune, and if you like it
> enough, you can even download a ringtone to your cell phone.
> After the marketing presentation was concluded, David left the Howe 
> Building
> with me.  I asked him what the next project is for Perkins Products, and
> found out that an electric version of the redesigned brailler will be 
> coming
> to market in a year or so.
> I then asked how the introduction has been going for this brailler.  David
> said he's pleased that the machine has generated a great deal of 
> attention,
> and thinks that sales will be stimulated as word gets out.
> With obvious pride, he mentioned that professionals in the blindness field
> have called the Next Generation Perkins/APH Brailler "revolutionary."  As 
> we
> said our goodbyes, David added a final thought: "If it builds interest and
> excitement for braille, then it's done its job."
> The Next Generation Perkins/APH Brailler certainly is a great present for
> Louis Braille's 200th birthday in January-or this month it could even be a
> nice holiday gift for yourself or someone very special.
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