[nfbwatlk] Perkins Braillers

Mike Freeman k7uij at panix.com
Mon Sep 13 13:10:12 CDT 2010


Rick:

Refreshable Braille displays use piezoelectric elements to drive the dots these days. Very little difference in cost between 6 and 8 dots per sell. Moreover, unless the number of blind folks increases drastically, we are unlikely to garner the monetary subsidies you suggest. Plenty of research is going on but, frankly, most is impractical and IMO little more than hot air from inventors looking for money.

Mike Freeman
Sent from my iPhone


On Sep 13, 2010, at 11:42, Frederick Driver <wt329 at victoria.tc.ca> wrote:

> Hi Mary Ellen,
> 
> Interesting question.
> 
> I'm no expert.  But I would certainly never denigrate the Perkins
> brailler.  I know it has a very useful history, and I know that many
> people still use it a lot and wouldn't be without it.
> 
> That said, it does look an ancient clunky old thing.  I suppose it could
> be aesthecially redisnged, like they do new cars every year, without
> changing its function and operation.
> 
> But, while recognizing the continuing utility of the Perkins, I feel that
> new braille technology is not being fully exploited and adequately pushed.
> 
> I think the major thrust in technological research at present should be on
> making refreshable braille, and computer-portable-and-transmittable
> braille, more much affordable and widespread.
> 
> On perfecting the technology, on promoting awareness and use of it, and
> most especially, on making the refreshable braille hardware more
> affordable.
> 
> Which could be done in different ways.
> Firstly, a political recognition of the basic right to braille literacy,
> and political pressure to that end, in order to prompt more money to make
> the technology available to more people.  And to promote awareness of it
> and training in its use.
> Secondly, given the cost and complexity of the technology, with all those
> solenoids hopping up and down, how about only six cell refreshable
> braille?  I'm told they have eight now.  But six would cover pretty much
> everything most people want to do, and presumably reduce the cost of
> production and maintenance.  Eight could still be a more expensive option
> available to those who need it.
> Thirdly, improving the solenoid technology to make it simpler and cheaper.
> And pursuing other technological alternatives to solenoids.  I know
> certain things have been tried, so far without much success.  But I just
> don't think the whole question is being pursued aggressively enough, given
> its revolutionary potential.
> 
> I think this refreshable braille technology is the new revolution, whose
> potential and importance has not been fully recognized and embraced yet.
> 
> It's the key to once and for all blowing out of the water the tired old
> arguments against braille.  To making braille more widespread and
> accessible and flexible and portable and fast and compact.
> 
> And in the long run, it just might be the answer to the braille literacy
> crisis.
> 
> Thanks,
> 
> Rick
> 
> 
> On Mon, 13 Sep 2010, Mary Ellen wrote:
> 
>> I'm writing to ask what may seem to be an absurd question.
>> 
>> Is the Perkins Brailler still a useful piece of equipment?
>> 
>> The Perkins is obviously used by blind people who don't have access to
>> advanced Braille technology, but I'm particularly interested in the opinions
>> of those who use computer assisted Braille.
>> 
>> Though I have a Braille Lite and an embosser, I wouldn't want to give up my
>> Perkins. Its role has changed for me over the years, but I still find it
>> useful.
>> 
>> The question has arisen because of an accommodation assessment I just read.
>> The person doing the assessment described the Perkins as "akin to a 1950's
>> Underwood." He clearly meant to indicate contempt for such an antiquated
>> piece of machinery.
>> 
>> Perhaps I'm merely demonstrating my advanced age and Luddite tendencies, but
>> I cringe at the "If it don't have a computer chip, it ain't no good,"
>> mentality.
>> 
>> I would like to compile a list of ways in which tech savvy blind people
>> still use the Perkins, as well as reasons why people have stopped using it.
>> 
>> We're all familiar with "experts" who denigrate the slate and stylus. We've
>> done a very good job of countering their arguments, though the "experts"
>> still aren't listening very well. I believe it may be time for us to pull
>> together information and information on best practice once again. If I'm
>> right in believing the Perkins is still a useful tool, technology
>> consultants need to know it in detail. If I'm wrong, then it's time for me
>> to change my Luddite ways and "get with the program."
>> Please e-mail me at gabias at telus.net with your views.
>> 
>> Mary Ellen Gabias
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