Results of the survey “Braille Display Usage”

From December 2023 to the end of February 2024 braille working group of European Blind Union conducted the survey Braille Display Usage. This survey offers overview of braille display usage and braille display users’ expectations.

The questionnaire contained questions about the usage of Braille displays in any life situation (education, work, personal use). All the answers will be further used for analytic purposes only. We believe this questionnaire will present a better picture of present-day Braille display usage and provide leverage and arguments in further discussions with Braille display producers, distributors, governmental or other financial support subjects.

All questions with data analysis are summarized below in this article. May any braille display producing company wish to see the full data sheet, they can be consulted with braille working group of EBU, contact e-mail:


The future of braille in the digital environment lies in high-quality braille displays that are sufficiently adaptable to the needs of the present. At the same time, there are high user expectations in the world for multi-line braille displays, which are long-awaited hardware with support of full-page braille and tactile graphics in one display. They present anticipated and significant improvement of developing digital and literacy skills from the beginning of the educational process for children in schools. Braille and tactile graphics are key to effective learning and are the cornerstone of literacy for blind people. Braille displays and multi-line braille displays must form a solid part of the equipment of blind pupils, students and adults in the future, whether as aids in their profession or while carrying out everyday activities and leading an active life on an equal footing with other people.

What are the expectations of braille users and what are the expectations of parents and educators of children in schools towards the use of braille in digital environments? These questions were the basis for conducting a global survey, the results of which will be subsequently presented to braille display and multi-line braille display manufacturers.

The Braille Working Group of the European Blind Union has prepared a survey of braille users in 2023, focusing on the use of braille displays. The survey was conducted using an online questionnaire produced in five languages, namely English, German, Spanish, French and Czech language. The questionnaire contained 18 questions, 11 of which were multiple-choice questions and 7 were open-ended questions. In addition, 6 of the 11 closed-ended questions offered the option of “other”, where it was possible to indicate individual answers to the question.


Over a three-month period, from December 1, 2023 to February 29, 2024, we collected responses from 912 respondents, who mostly responded as braille users, but there were also responses from teachers, educators, and braille trainers. Responses from all users, who can read Braille and who use Braille displays as either stand-alone devices or in connection with a computer or smartphone were collected in total of 912 responses from braille users all over the world,
59 countries in total.

Answers analysis

1. What country are you from?

Opened question.

Question 1 analysis

Responses came from 59 countries in total. Countries with more than one percent of responses: (if the table below does not fit on your screen, turn your mobile device to landscape mode.)

List of participants’ countries
Country number of responses percentage
Germany 296 responses 32,46 %
Spain 161 responses 17,65 %
France 115 responses 12,61 %
United States of America 86 responses 9,43 %
Austria 33 responses 3,62 %
United Kingdom 29 responses 3,18 %
Netherlands 19 responses 2,08 %
Czech Republic 18 responses 1,97 %
Belgium 17 responses 1,86 %
Slovak Republic 15 responses 1,64 %
Canada 14 responses 1,54 %
Switzerland 10 responses 1,10 %

All countries with less than one percent of all responses: Afghanistan, Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Chile, china, Colombia, Croatia, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, qatar, Luxemburg, Malta, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Per, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, somalia , South Africa, Sweden, Syrien, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, Venezuela. (47 countries in total)

2. Do you use a braille display?

Closed question with options (one to choose):

  • Yes
  • No

Question 2 analysis

There were 823 users (90,24 %) who answered “Yes” and 80 users with answer “No” (8,77 %). There were 9 questions unanswered (0,99 %).

3. If no, why not?

Question with options (more answers to choose):

  • not interested.
  • I consider it too expensive.
  • There is no financial support for it.
  • It is too difficult to use.
  • Lack of training on how to use it.
  • Other:

Question 3 analysis

There were 114 answers collected. Out of these 114 users who stated to not use braille display, the reasons were: (if the table below does not fit on your screen, turn your mobile device to landscape mode.)

Reasons for not using a braille display
Option number of responses percentage
Not interested. 9 answers 7,89 %)
I consider it too expensive. 46 answers 40,35 %
There is no financial support for it. 21 answers 18,42 %
It is too difficult to use. 10 answers 8,77 %
Lack of training on how to use it. 30 answers 26,32 %
Other: 39 answers 34,21 %

Some of the users answered this question even if they stated “yes” in previous question. There were few answers “I have braille display but do not use it.

Among the “other” answers, there were few key points possible to identify:

  • Too low braille signage knowledge,
  • lack of the service for braille displays in particular countries in coincidence with frequent need for service,
  • Low support for braille code tables,
  • Malfunction or frequent need for service of particular devices, possible trend of decreased quality of braille displays
  • answers from teachers or parrents with blind pupils or children, for this no direct usage
  • Rejection from financial support system,
  • prefering other assistive technologies.

4. Which braille display(s) do you use? (If you use more than one, please name all models and mention where you use them, e. g. x at school y at work, and z at home.)

Opened question.

Question 4 analysis

In this question we did not want to limit participants with given choices of braille displays, what might have been inaccurate. We rather chose an opened question with answer field to be filled by the participants. The drawback of this choice though is in inaccurate wording of the braille displays, sometimes with missing model, sometimes with missing producer, sometimes misspelled or mismatched model/version numbers. Anyway, we did our best when interpreting the results and deciphered braille display tracking at least producer correctly. Anyway, most of the participants were fairly accurate stating the producer, model or even version of their braille displays. Few information we did not include are:

  • When the participant’s answer did not specify braille display model, we counted it as most standard display from particular producer. So the answer “Focus” was counted as “Vispero Focus 40”
  • When there was no particular producer or model included, we did not include the answer, even if it stated amount of braille cells used (for this purpose there is question 5). Nevertheless, there were very few answers omitted.
  • Vispero Focus braille displays: we did not track the version of generation, only the amount of cells.
  • Papenmeier: It was dificult to decipher models of 40 cell braille displays, therefore we put three models of 40 cells together.
  • VisioBraille: It was dificult to decipher models of ultra, pro and super vario braille displays, therefore we put together models on the base of amount of cells.
  • Orbit Reader was seldom specified as Orbit Reader 20 or Orbit Reader 20 Plus. Answer of “20 Plus” was recorded Only when “plus” specified, otherwise it was counted as Orbit Reader 20.

Results of most used braille displays of participants of this survey are shown in following table and below it: (if the table below does not fit on your screen, turn your mobile device to landscape mode.)

Overview of most used braille displays of the survey participants
Braille display total answers percentage
Vispero Focus 40 317 37,78 %
Papenmeier (three models: Braillex El 40C, and Braillex Live/Live+) 72 8,58 %
Humanware Brailliant BI-40X 66 7,87 %
VisioBraille Vario Ultra 40 (also Baum Vario 40) 64 7,63 %
Humanware Brailliant BI-20 60 7,15 %
Papenmeier Braillex EL 80C 57 6,79 %
Vispero Focus 14 55 6,56 %
Humanware/APH Mantis Q40 55 6,56 %
Humanware (different models: Brailliant BI-14, Brailliant BI-32, BrailleNote Apex, mPower, BrailleNote touch, eReader) 52 6,20 %
Handy-Tech Easy Braille 50 5,96 %
Vispero Focus 80 49 5,84 %
HIMS BrailleSense 6 49 5,84 %
Orbit Research Orbit Reader 20 38 4,53 %
Handy-Tech Active Braille, Active Braille 2021 33 3,93 %
Hims Braille EDGE 40 26 3,10 %
Optelec Alva (different models: Satellite 40, 570, 640, 80, Voyager, Delphi80. 544 Traveller, ABT380) 24 2,86 %
Eurobraille Esys 40 24 2,86 %
Handy-Tech Modular Evolution (40, 64, 88) 22 2,62 %
EcoBraille (model 40 and model 80) 22 2,62 %
VisioBraille Variopro 80, Vario 80 20 2,38 %
VisioBraille Pronto! 18 19 2,26 %
Handy-Tech (different models: Braillino, Actilino, Braillestar 128h, Braille wave, ConnectBraille) 19 2,26 %
Freedom Scientific pacmate 19 2,26 %
Zoomax E-reader (NLS) 17 2,03 %

Less than two percent of used braile displays were:
Baum VarioUltra 20 (16 answers, 1,91 %); Handy-Tech Active Star (16 answers, 1,91 %); Orbit Reader 20 plus (15 answers, 1,79 %); Optelec Alva BC6 (12 answers, 1,43 %); HIMS BrailleSense Polaris (11 answers, 1,31 %); HIMS: different models: BrailleSense Polaris, BrailleSense U2 Mini, Smart Beetle (11 answers, 1,31 %); Handy-Tech Braille Star 80 (11 answers, 1,31 %); Humanware Brailliant BI-80 (9 answers, 1,07 %); Handy-Tech Basic Braille, Basic Braille Plus (9 answers, 1,07 %); HIMS QBraille XL (9 answers, 1,07 %); Papenmeier: different models: Braillex Live 20, EL60, Braillex Duo, Braillex trio (9 answers, 1,07 %); Seika: different models: Seika Mini, Seika 40, Seika vision 3 (9 answers, 1,07 %); Orbit Reader 40 (8 answers, 0,95 %); Humanware BrailleOne (7 answers, 0,83 %); Eurobraille Esys 12 (7 answers, 0,83 %); Eurobraille B-Note (6 answers, 0,72 %); VisioBraille VarioConnect 12 Conny (6 answers, 0,72 %); Eurobraille: different models: Esytime Evolution, clio 40, Esys Light 80 (6 answers, 0,72 %); VisioBraille: different models: Vario 4 series, vario240, vario340, vario360 (5 answers, 0,60 %); Eurobraille Esys 24 (4 answers, 0,48 %); PowerBraille (4 answers, 0,48 %); Gaudiobook (4 answers, 0,48 %); Optelec Easylink 12 (3 answers, 0,36 %); APH Chameleon 20 (3 answers, 0,36 %); IPD Mobile (3 answers, 0,36 %).

Braille displays, which were mentioned once, are: Pegasus 40, Pegasus 80, Tieman, Tieman Express, Navigator 40, extra PowerBraille 40, TeleBraille Braille Box 20, Tiny 75, Relaxale 400 3F 128, bei Alex L4 103 RAF 128, Braille Hamby, Brassens, Braille lite 18, Braille Lite 40, Hedo MobiLine, Hembra sense QE two.

Specifically three multi-lined braille displays were once mentioned: BristolBraille Canute console, Orbit Graphiti Tactile Graphics display and Insideone tablet.

The answers recorded 297 braille displays with 20 and less than 20 cells (35,40 %). It gives quite high ratio of portable braille display usage.

May you find any inconsistency in the list of braille displays, either in producer, model or version, let us know at

5. How many cells does your Braille display or notetaker have? (if you use more than one, consider your most used Braille device)

Question with options (one to choose):

  • less than 20 cells.
  • 20 cells.
  • 32 cells.
  • 40 cells.
  • 80 cells.
  • more than one line.
  • Other:

Question 5 analysis

There were 842 responses recorded. (if the table below does not fit on your screen, turn your mobile device to landscape mode.)

Percentage of users’ braille displays by the amount of braille cells
Option number of responses percentage
less than 20 cells 44 answers 5,23 %)
20 cells. 94 answers 11,16 %
32 cells. 46 answers 5,46 %
40 cells. 474 answers 56,29 %
80 cells. 142 answers 16,86 %
more than one line. 30 answers 3,56 %
Other: 55 answers 6,53 %

Out of 55 answers “other” in total, more than half of them were possible to merge with existing options. Among 26 answers, which were not possible to merge, there were:

  • 64 cells. (5 answers, 0,59 %)
  • 24 cells. (4 answers, 0,48 %)
  • Once mentioned. 3 cells, 6 cells, 44 cells, 60 cells, 70 cells, 75 cells, 88 cells, PacMate Braille Range.
  • There were 9 answers which stated either no use of braille display or a suggestion, which one the participant would like to use.

6. How do you use a braille display or displays?

Closed question with options (more answers to choose):

  • With a computer.
  • With a smart phone.
  • With a tablet.
  • As a stand-alone device.

Question 6 analysis

There were 860 answers recorded. (if the table below does not fit on your screen, turn your mobile device to landscape mode.)

Table of preferences of braille display usage
Option number of responses percentage
With a computer. 743 answers 86,40 %
With a smart phone. 412 answers 47,91 %
With a tablet. 99 answers 11,51 %
As a stand-alone device. 383 answers 44,53 %

7. What do you use a braille display for?

Question with options (more answers to choose):

  • for reading books or newspapers.
  • as a braille input keyboard for writing texts.
  • for managing a computer or smart phone.
  • Other:

Question 7 analysis

There were 859 answers recorded. (if the table below does not fit on your screen, turn your mobile device to landscape mode.)

Table of braille display usage situations
Option number of responses percentage
for reading books or newspapers. 463 answers 53,90 %
as a braille input keyboard for writing texts. 418 answers 48,66 %
for managing a computer or smart phone. 612 answers 71,25 %
Other: 177 answers 20,61 %

considering each participant’s answer as a combination, there were:

  • 225 answers, where all three options were chosen by participant (except “Other”),
  • 100 answers of two options: using braille display as input keyboard and for managing computer or smartphone,
  • 49 answers of two options: using braille display for reading books and newspapers and as an input keyboard,
  • 108 answers of two options: for using braille display for reading and managing coputer,
  • 81 answers of one chosen option: using braille display only for reading,
  • 179 answers of one chosen option: for using braille display for managing computer or smartphone,
  • 44 answers of one chosen option: for using braille display as an input keyboard only.

There were 177 answers with “other” option, with the text description of braille display usage. Most frequent were:

  • Writing, reading and editing music notation,
  • Taking, reading and editing notes,
  • Proof reading, check of grammar, spelling, numbers, indentations,
  • For programming, coding, mathematic purposes.
  • Only for reading the screen of computer or connected device.
  • As an reading device when performing or creating/performing a presentation,
  • Using braille display also for internal applications.

8. Do you use a braille display when performing or delivering a presentation for an audience?

Closed question with options (one option to choose):

  • Yes, I always use only a braille display and perform mostly with braille support.
  • Yes, I always use a braille display along with the speech output from my computer or smart phone.
  • Sometimes I use a braille display along with speech output.
  • I don’t need a braille display when performing.
  • I do not perform or deliver presentations.

Question 8 analysis

There were 845 answers collected. (if the table below does not fit on your screen, turn your mobile device to landscape mode.)

Percentage of braille display usage while performing or presenting
Option number of responses percentage
Yes, I always use only a braille display and perform mostly with braille support. 239 answers 28,28 %
Yes, I always use a braille display along with the speech output from my computer or smart phone. 109 answers 12,90 %
Sometimes I use a braille display along with speech output. 99 answers 11,72 %
I don’t need a braille display when performing. 116 answers 13,73 %
I do not perform or deliver presentations. 282 answers 33,37 %

9. When did you start using a braille display?

Question with options (one option to choose):

  • as a child.
  • during further education as a student.
  • as an adult for work purposes.
  • as an adult for private activities.
  • Other:

Question 9 analysis

There were 848 answers collected. (if the table below does not fit on your screen, turn your mobile device to landscape mode.)

First experiences with braille display
Option number of responses percentage
as a child. 114 answers 13,44 %
during further education as a student. 290 answers 34,20 %
as an adult for work purposes. 244 answers 28,77 %
as an adult for private activities. 169 answers 19,93 %
Other: 21 answers 2,48 %

Initially, there were 60 answer “other”. Nevertheless, out of these 60 answers, most were answering the question more specifically, exact year or life period since the participant got to know braille display. 39 answers were merged with the statistics above, 21 answers brought mostly information about a year since the participant started, or information about not using it at all or not using it earlyer, because they were not available during participant’s childhood.

10. What training or instruction did you receive in order to use a braille display?

Question with options (more answers to choose):

  • Short instruction by the producing company or product distributor.
  • More than one day of training by a professional.
  • Peer support from other blind users.
  • I read documentation and worked it out on my own.
  • Other:

Question 10 analysis

There were 866 answers collected. (if the table below does not fit on your screen, turn your mobile device to landscape mode.)

Table of ways of getting knowledge about braille displays
Option number of responses percentage
Short instruction by the producing company or product distributor. 322 answers 37,18 %
More than one day of training by a professional. 273 answers 31,52 %
Peer support from other blind users. 272 answers 31,41 %
I read documentation and worked it out on my own. 444 answers 51,27 %
Other: 71 answers 8,20 %

Among “other” answers there were several answers of internet research; watching videos online; online group discussion; Basic rehabilitation training; lessons at school; during the work as an instructor; never used braille display; exchanges with other professionals; .

11. How often do you use a braille display?

Closed question with options (one option to choose):

  • daily.
  • several times per week.
  • several times per month.
  • less than once per month.

Question 11 analysis

There were 854 answers collected. (if the table below does not fit on your screen, turn your mobile device to landscape mode.)

Table of the braille display usage periodicity
Option number of responses percentage
daily. 632 answers 74,00 %
several times per week. 127 answers 14,87 %
several times per month. 48 answers 5,62 %
less than once per month. 47 answers 5,50 %

12. Which functionalities of your Braille display are very important to you?

Question with options (more answers to choose):

  • cursor routing.
  • braille input keyboard.
  • panorama scroll reading keys (scrolling keys, thumb keys …).
  • finger detection for automatic scrolling to a new line.
  • implemented navigation functions (keystroke commands) for managing the computer/smartphone.
  • bluetooth connection.
  • use as a stand-alone device without a need to connect it.
  • possibility to use different built-in applications in the braille display.
  • internal storage or the possibility to use external storage such as SD cards or thumb drives.
  • Other:

Question 12 analysis

There were 860 answers collected. Participants were able to choose one or more options. We did not follow the combinations of chosen functions, the statistics shows only preferences of each function as important for participants. In average, Each participant selected at least four functions as important. (if the table below does not fit on your screen, turn your mobile device to landscape mode.)

Table of the most important functions of braille display usage
Option number of responses percentage
cursor routing. 616 answers 71,63 %
braille input keyboard. 435 50,58 %
panorama scroll reading keys (scrolling keys, thumb keys …). 524 answers 60,93 %
finger detection for automatic scrolling to a new line. 117 answers 13,60 %
implemented navigation functions (keystroke commands) for managing the computer/smartphone. 376 answers 43,72 %
bluetooth connection. 472 answers 54,88 %
use as a stand-alone device without a need to connect it. 421 answers 48,95 %
possibility to use different built-in applications in the braille display. 288 answers 33,49 %
internal storage or the possibility to use external storage such as SD cards or thumb drives. 393 answers 45,70 %

There were 53 “other” options chosen. Among these, few suggestions for functionality of braille displays were added, such as:

  • Possibility to access an online library with digital braille books with the braille display itself;
  • Braille display with speech output as one combined device;
  • Direct internet access;
  • Accent on learning foreign languages, where braille is crucial – translation functions, speech output for pronunciation, access to a dictionary;
  • Advanced editing options, possibility to translate text, switching between contracted and uncontracted braille;
  • Better file management, possibility to easyly transfer files from braille display to standard text editors, possibility to access standard formats as PDF,EPUB, DOCX etc., possibility to work with worksheets and databases;
  • Integrated QWERTY keyboard,
  • Importance of quick responsiveness of braille display and good ergonomics, possibility to switch for one-hand operation;
  • Integrated functionf or deafblind people -such as possibility of entering the text to the braille display with external bluetooth keyboard

13. Which braille patterns do you prefer on your braille display?

Closed question with options (more answers to choose):

  • 8-dot patterns for reading.
  • 6-dot patterns for reading.
  • 8-dot patterns for writing.
  • 6-dot patterns for writing.
  • I don’t use the braille display for writing.

Question 13 analysis

There were 876 answers collected. (if the table below does not fit on your screen, turn your mobile device to landscape mode.)

Table of percentage of 6 or 8 dots input/output
Option number of responses percentage
8-dot patterns for reading. 498 answers 56,85 %
6-dot patterns for reading. 365 answers 41,67 %
8-dot patterns for writing. 335 answers 38,24 %
6-dot patterns for writing. 294 answers 33,56 %
I don’t use the braille display for writing. 195 answers 22,26 %

14. Which braille display functions do you want to be improved in conjunction with screen reader usage on a computer? (Please write down your answer including the operating system and screenreader you use.)

Opened question.

Question 14 analysis

There were 502 answers collected.

1. devices: durability, design, connectivity

Given the high price, users expect that they can use their Braille display for many years. Users ask that drivers remain available in recent operating systems, also for older models. The Braille cells must be durable and easy to maintain. If replacement is needed it should be possible on an individual basis, as to reduce the cost. Buttons and keyboards must be qualitative, durable and quite. Several users state that built quality of Braille displays has decreased compared to older models.

A few users report that their display is slow, both in showing the text and also in registering input or chord commands when typing quickly.

Ergonomics are important. There is a relatively high demand for Braille displays that include a full keyboard (either qwerty or Braille) and also arow keys, function keys and modifier keys such as shift, ctrl and alt keys to operate the computer directly from the Braille display. Other users don’t want this because it makes the devices more complex and bigger and it increases the distance between the text on the Braille display and the laptop/keyboard.

So there is certainly a market for both complex and simple devices. But it is important that users can make an informed choice. E.g. some users regret that their display does not have cursor routing keys. Others have a device with a Braille keyboard and in practice they realise that it hinders them more than that it helps them.

Several people are interested in multiline displays to consult music scores, mathematical and scientific content, maps and graphics or to read more text at once and have a better idea of its layout. They encourage screenreader developers to support those devices. People want to use the additional space to keep track of different locations such as clock, two documents and so on (thus further developing the JAWS split braille function).

Users of multiple operating systems regret that key mappings are different and sometimes not configurable. This seems rather an issue for screenreader developers than Braille display manufacturers.

Many users report connectivity issues, especially with Bluetooth. It remains complicated to connect a device due to old or missing drivers in screenreaders. Connections get lost and switching between devices is not as easy as advertised. Every Braille display, whether with 40 cells or 80 cells, should have Bluetooth.

2. show everything in Braille, don’t rely on speech

Besides the devices themselves, many answers to this question address screenreader issues. One that is heard many times is that screenreader developers must ensure that users can perform all functions and receive all information with Braille alone, without speech. Places where Braille is not working well:

  • highlighting spelling and grammatical errors,
  • indicating underlined, bold or italicised text,
  • reading content in dialog boxes with JAWS,
  • showing items in menu’s and ribbons,
  • adding and reading comments in Word with NVDA,
  • some elements of web pages in browsers,
  • ability to click away status messages, e.g. in Zoom. Allowing to customise the length of status messages.
    – some alerts are provided by voice but do not appear in the braille,
  • description of emojis, icons and graphics,
  • addresses in mail clients such as Thunderbird and Outlook.

In addition, individual interesting answers brought these insights:

  • someone suggests to add a Braille dictionary to control how certain information is presented in Braille ((similar to the speech dictionary).
  • Also heard several times is to use better the available real estate on the braille display, e.g. That in applications such as EXCEL more than one field or cell can be output in the same row. That is to say, that as many fields as fit on the line can be output. Or that both answer “ok” and “cancel” are shown in Braille when focus is in a dialog box.
  • Also, it would be nice to have some possibilities to read lengthy outputs from CLI (command-line interfaces). I’m a software engineer, and I often need to test, build, compile things via command line. Speaking of coding, it would be also great if there were a possibility to condense indentations and mark them somehow, say, four times dot 8 instead of 16 spaces: a usual indetation tab size in programming is 4 spaces, and the level of indentation increases with nesting code blocks. No matter how long is your display, most of it will be eaten up by spaces in coding environments.
  • Also customisation of how controls such as “”link”” or “”button”” are described so that they can be shortened when desired.

3. synchronisation of cursor

It is essential that the Braille display always shows what content that has focus on the screen. Also when scrolling. When pressing a cursor routing button, the focus should go to that exact spot, not one or two characters to the left or right. Many users report such tracking issues. A few examples:

  • In Windows with NVDA, better Braille tracking, correct refreshment.
  • Better management of the functions linking the braille cursor to the NVDA focus or revision cursor.

Participants’ reports specifically about JAWS

  • Cursor routing does not work for texts with indentation and numbering, the cursor jumps a few characters next to the desired letter.
  • Correction of the numerous errors in JAWS in cursor positioning in Word documents, e.g. for indents or tracking changes and the display of lists
  • I use JAWS2020 with Windows 10. In Word 2010, I used to be able to verify indentations (e.g. in lists); this has not been possible for a few years now,
  • I would like to see 100% braille cursor guidance, often this function fails when using in Windows in Microsoft Word, e.g. in numbered lists.
  • Jaws, Windows 10 and 11. Needs to improve line tracking of text spoken by Jaws in web tables where there are multiple lines of text and active elements in a single cell.
  • I find navigation with JAWS under Windows 10 with the Braille display in Excel difficult. It’s easy to lose your bearings within tables.
  • Jaws and Microsoft 11; That the line does not jump back and forth between parts of the document line without me having pressed it further.
  • The exact positioning of the cursor during text editing could be improved, especially for structured and/or indented texts. This answer is based on: PC with Windows 7, Office 10, JAWS 2019 and PC Wiindoes 11, Office 2021, JAWS 2024.
  • Windows 11, JAWS: It is still difficult to scroll vertically in structured views. For example, if you have an element under your finger in a list view and now want to scroll up or down to read the next element, the line often jumps a few positions to the left and right because something has changed in the structured view of JAWS, i.e. more or less edge information is displayed. Here it should be ensured that the areas are better separated from each other and seamless scrolling is possible.
  • With Jaws, the line is often suddenly empty. I would like the line to always reliably show what is in focus on the screen. Better navigation across the screen would also be good. You often can’t reach certain elements. Line Writing an email with iOS: the cursor doesn’t follow properly when deleting
  • Windows/Jaws: Easier traceability of formatting, paragraphs, etc.; marking and deleting areas in Word; marking multiple lines in Excel; better overview of formulas in Excel

Participants’ reports specifically about MacOs:

  • Improvements in editing and moving around text with my braille display in macOS Sonoma with VoiceOver and various applications like TextEdit and Word.
  • MacOS: more reliable panning (not skipping to the ends of paragraphs in some situations in which this occurs)
  • On the Mac, with voiceover and fa focus, an improvement in Braille tracking would be welcome.
  • The focusing issues sometimes Mac OS experiences with voiceover, as well as the times when it stops at a particular place in a book when an image is detected more often, or the end of a chapter, where I have to manually go to the computer itself to scroll to the next page

4. Braille tables

Survey participants also commented on Braille tables. Users expect in all environments that the Braille table switches automatically depending on the language. “Reading English words in German contracted braille is no fun”.

It is also not clear to many users how to switch manually between Braille tables for different languages.

Some people want that the rules are followed and everything is standardised, while others want the possibility to customise their Braille tables. This user wants it both:
“I would like the braille tables to be easy to customise and for there to be no transcription errors when it comes to 6-dot braille”.

And when there is the choice, it seems not well-known or to be too complicated:

  • the latest versions no longer have an uppercase character in the six-dot display in Braille. So I can only proofread as usual with JAWS 2021. In my opinion, it should be forbidden to mutilate Braille in this way! The capitalisation character is part of six-dot Braille and should be available as an option if you need it.
  • It is crucial to my using a braille display that the option of Standard English Braille (Grades 1 and 2) be revived.
  • jaws 23, windows 10. you should not be forced to translate, e.g. rtfc. you should be able to activate the translation of jaws 21 again, the rule-based contracted braille. you should be able to choose which contracted braille version you want to work with.
  • JAWS, contracted braille without e.g. 8th point for the “st”, adapt more to 6-point contracted braille and use only the point 7 as capitalisation point

There are also comments on contracted Braille:

  • Implementation of German contracted braille for writing in Nvda/windows would be nice.
  • contracted braille transmission, also different countries.
  • Simple switching to contracted braille
  • Improvement of contracted braille output.
  • Good contracted braille support for longer texts.
  • JAWS and occasionally NVDA, better contracted braille display.
  • Standardised switchability between computer Braille and contracted braille, improved output of attributes and other features for editing, layout and proofreading work.

15. Which braille display functions do you want to be improved in conjunction with Apple I-Phone usage and VoiceOver? (Please write down.)

Opened question.

Question 15 analysis

There were 381 answers collected. 13 persons were completely satisfied with no further comments, 73 persons stated they dont use the iPhone with a braille display. Out of the rest of the responses, we identified these problems or suggestions in common.

1. Users want more options for navigating and editing text, mentioned by 73 persons:
  • Users want a stable cursor; often, the cursor jumps around while typing; after switching from one app to another the cursor or reading position must be at the same point where you left the document.
  • There should be more commants for editing like ctrl+c, ctrl+v; the performance should refer to what users are used to managing text editors like Word on the computer. Delete command should work only with dot 7 on the braille keyboard. Users also want a menu for spelling correction.
  • Text attributes should be displayed, e.g. with dots 7 and 8.
  • There must be more options to navigate in text, mainly large texts or e-books, like jumping to headings or using the index to jump to chapters. There must be a bookmark option. Navigating tables has to be improved.
  • More different text formats have to be supported.
  • easier writing of passwords and phone numbers.
  • better combination of typing and speach input.
2. Users prefer to operate the iPhone by their braille display completely, mentioned by 38 persons:
  • Functions which should be manageable by braille display keys are: on and off; search function; reaching an app or function by typing the first letter of it; rotor functions; enter key should activate double tap;
  • possibility to configure the key functions of the Braille display yourself.
3. connection problems, mentioned by 38 persons
  • Too often the connection via Bluetooth failes or doesnt work in the first try.
  • The braille display works too slow together with the iPhone.
  • The braille keyboard should work better; sometimes letters are not submitted correctly.
  • The braille display should easily connect with different devices like smartphone and computer.
  • The iPhone should support the change of braille displays easily.
  • Connection via cable should be offered.
4. The representation of different braille system should be improved, mentioned by 24 persons
  • The element names on the braille display should be shorter not to take too much space
  • Displaying 6 dot braille should be improved
  • In 6 dot braille the capitalisation of letters has albe to switch off
  • Better contracted braille translation and backtranslation from contracted braille to regular text
  • Possibility to use different braille systems for in- and output
  • Better displaying of multilingual documents
  • These braille systems should be included: Cambodian, Arabic, Hebrew; Slovenian, Serbian, Croatian, Macedonian and Bulgarian
5. Problems after iOS update / better bug fixing, mentioned by 11 persons
  • Often important VoiceOver and braille features do not work well after an iOS update and it takes too long to correct failors.
6. More different braille displays should be supported by iOS, mentioned by 8 persons
7. Copy text from iPhone to braille display, mentioned by 7 persons
  • Users want to send text easily from a document on the iPhone to the internal storage of the braille display to read it there independent from the iPhone.
8. Better instructions, mentioned by 7 persons
  • Better complete manual
  • quick help for navigation functions
  • Possibility to ask Siri for hotkeys
9. Faster reading, mentioned by 3 persons
10. Combination with qwertz keyboard should be offered, mentioned by 3 persons
11. Further comments from 2 or 1 person:
  • Notifications popping up are annoying.
  • Automatic completion text reading
  • Audio output of the iPhone should be transmitted via the braille display.
  • The usability for deafblind persons should be optimiced.
  • More than one items should be displayed in one line, e.g. on the home screen or in tables.
  • Orbit braille displays should have cursor routing.
  • There should be no VoiceOver sounds when the braille display is connected to the phone.
  • Make it accessible for Android.

16. Which braille display functions do you want to be improved in conjunction with the usageAndroid Smartphones with Android screenreader? (Please write down.)

Opened question.

Question 16 analysis

There were 265 answers collected.

In this evaluation of Q16 there are of course taken in to consider other questions like the language of the questionnaire, the mother tongue of the answering person, wether or not he or she has a Braille display and additional remarks. Sometimes it is not really clear, if the remarks on Braille displays only concerns Android or not. This is not bad, because there is a goal to gave hints to the producers of Braille display producers.

In this evaluation You will not find connections between countries, languages and usage of android in conjunction with Braille displays. The comments are clustered. The focus is on Android software and Braille Displays! Not every comment has been intelligible! The references are ordered by there numbers to shop the emphasis of the people.

Software (mainly Talkback):
  • (14 answers) Google should invest in the HID-protocol to achieve fast and easy connection, especially USB and Bluetooth to avoid more drivers
  • (3 answers) Connection to public Kiosks, Kindle, other e-readers, e-books to fasten turning of pages
  • (2 answers) Version 13 and 14 made many things better
  • (2) Talkback Menu: Pairing and unpairing of Braille displays should be made easier
  • (2) Braille display: improve connection options, more responsivity
  • Braille keyboard and display: Speech output should not talk while; No question about Braille keyboard while pairing every time
  • input via Braille keyboard
  • Others: dictionary; increase of cursor tracking; evoking speech navigation by usage of right and left hand; cursor routing;

Braille display:
  • (13) Everything should be controlled via the braille display, so that the smart phone need not to be touched; there is no need to activate Braille input keyboard after any pairing; navigate over whole display; improve reading mode, not only in object mode; like in NVDA moore freedom; like JAWS more independency in conjunction with speech output; hook and unhook phone calls; use smartphone and Braille keyboard parallel; each gesture needs a specific key combination
  • (10) Costs: Braille displays must become cheaper, especially because of the poor countries; development should go to 3D presentation (inflation instead of piezo); battery driven; guidelines for financing in EU should be joined with a catalogue of devices; if more costs, then more functions; portability; functions concerning audio, speech output and grafics in one device
  • (5) better localization: more countries, cambodjanic and polish characters are incorrect; Braille keyboard input is problematic; more and better code tables
  • (5) increase of pairing functions: more than one device; show which device now is connected; reconnection should be possible after loosing blue tooth connection
  • (3) PC: more displays with qwerty; pure notetakers will loose there importancy, PC with implemented Braille display is the oposit development; similar to PC by implementing keys lika ALT, COMMAND and CONTROL;
  • (3) More manuals
  • (3) watch Braille displays with more than one line, especially to display graphics on this displays;
  • (3) Adaptation to different smart phones, especially Samsung
  • (2) Adaptation of features to IOS, more hotkeys
  • (2) improving of cursor stability in apps: Kindle
  • (2) Good representation of dot patterns
  • Other: keyboard like Braille keyboard on Braille type writers; possibility to start apps faster from home screen; file transfer in both directions; using older Braille displays You must come back to BRLTTY or BRAILLEBACK do not overload with new functions; prohibit interference with other apps; grade II; do not stick so much to speech output; create macros to move forward more than one field; in text fields SPACE should not be a cord to navigate; more function key on Braille displays; standardize key strokes; keys should be as silent as possible; automatic scrolling; switch off LEDs to not bother sighted persons; 20 characters are not enough; 6 dot Braille should be standard for fluent reading

17. Which braille display functions do you want to be improved in stand-alone devices? (Please write down.)

Opened question.

Question 17 analysis

There were 391 answers collected.

The respondents fall into four major groups, which happen to be pretty equal:

Group 1: those who would like to see more functions in their stand-alone Braille devices, turning them into a tablet or a computer. The most requested requests from the users in this group are as follows:

  • Integrate full versions of Windows applications, such as Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, as well as an email app, an Internet browser, a book reader, etc.
  • Make sure the command structure mimics standard Windows commands.
  • Make sure a user can edit files in a variety of popular formats.
  • Make sure file formatting and text layout is retained when editing files in multiple formats, such as Microsoft Word.
  • Make sure the display comes with the latest communication technologies.
  • Group 2: minimalistic approach. These are people who would want fewer functions, but more stability. To them, the Braille display functionality is primary, while everything else is secondary. These users are asking for stable and crash-free performance, as well as overall reliability. A few of these respondence emphasize the need for a Calculator as one of the display’s built-in function. However, according to them, the most important built-in function is a notepad, or a scratchpad.

    Group 3: happy campers. These users told us they are happy with their Braille displays as they stand, without any major needs for improvement.

    Group 4: uninformed or uninterested. These people do not use stand-alone Braille devices. In fact, some of them claimed they are not aware of these devices; while others admit they are not interested or do not have a need for this type of equipment.

    Along with these, there have been a number of requests/recommendations expressed by the respondence. Here they are, in order of their frequency:

    1. Improve the quality, stability and longevity of the Braille modules.
    2. Improve the devices’ battery life.
    3. Make sure you use up-to-date hardware, including CPU and RAM. For a user, this translates into faster and smoother operation, especially when opening and managing larger files.
    4. Make sure you support a variety of file formats, at least for reading, but also for writing. One frequently mentioned format is .EPUB.
    5. Allow for easy and versatile navigation through structured files, such as ebooks.
    6. Make sure editing Microsoft Word files does not alter their initial format and text layout.
    7. Improve the user experience in connecting the Braille display to other devices, such as computers or mobile phones, via USB, Blue Tooth and WiFi. In fact, there were a couple of requests to see if Braille displays could be used as network devices.
    8. Make it a requirement that Braille displays should be able to connect to cloud services, such as Google Drive and OneDrive.
    9. Unify the command structure for using various Braille displays with various screen readers. This would allow for smaller learning curve and improved productivity.
    10. Make sure all Braille displays adhere to the unified HID standard.
    11. Make sure all Braille displays have built-in TTS.
    12. Make sure these devices support multitasking, such as opening several files at the same time, performing cross-file operations, using several applications, etc.
    13. Improve both QWERTY and Perkins keyboard for speed and performance.
    14. Support the latest Braille translation technology in order to allow for quick and seamless multilingual translation and back-translation, thus enabling document exchange for those who prefer to use contracted Braille.
    15. Provide more settings in order to make the devices configurable for a variety of users.
    16. Develop a simpler interface, which would be suitable for small children.
    17. See if the price for these devices could be reduced. One suggestion is a modular approach, where the user could purchase only the hardware and software components they require.
    18. Develop better documentation and training, especially for advanced Braille display functions.
    19. A couple of participants expressed the need for a light-weight and compact 20-cell Braille display. However, the number of these requests was very small.
    20. There was also a request to make sure the Braille display could be used as a communications device for deaf-blind people.

    A few answers to this question reference specific Braille display models:

    • Freedom Scientific, Focus line: improve the quality of Braille cells; improve Scratchpad stability and make sure there are no crashes; make sure that cursor position can be maintained when re-opening a file.
    • HumanWare devices: improve the hardware, so that larger files can be loaded quickly.
    • BrailleSense from Hims: simplify the interface.
    • Easys from EuroBraille: update the Word Processor interface; make sure to support the French Braille code.

    18.Is there anything else you want to tell us about braille displays or note takers?

    Opened question.

    Question 18 analysis

    This question was approached by 397 users, among whom 27 just stated they did not have any additional comments. Thus, for practical and statistical purposes, we count on 360 samples.

    Users responses were based on different aspects of these technological devices, which we will attempt to group in various categories. Some answers might possibly overlap with those in other questions, as most topics are highly related.

    1. About price:

    Probably needless to say, this has been the most popular aspect to be approached by users in all countries. WE got 119 persons who stated, no matter where they came from, that the price of a braille device is extremely high. To this respect, most of them offered some alternatives to make this situation a bit more accessible:

    • 39 persons think that: More funding, fluid international purchase exchange strategies, and financing mechanisms are needed, either from the European Union, from the different associations of the blind, or from national governments, so that braille displays can reach more blind users.
    • 3 users stated that these devices should be offered second-hand, instead of throwing them, no matter where you live.
    • 25 users just mentioned that producers should make a bigger effort, join strategies and make these equipments simpler and cheaper.
    • There is one user who suggests that: Solutions could be worked on that make Braille reading cheaper, for example virtual tactile dots.
    • Besides, 10 of them said that Hardware maintenance specialists and client support should be available in every country, so that users didnt need to throw their displays and replace them, even if they were quite new.
    • 11 users consider that: you should be able to get braille displays, for purchase or as a loan, even beyond employment or education, for private usage or hobbies.
    • To this respect, it is important to remark that users from Germany generally acknowledge that, for them, financial support is quite a possibility.
    • Besides, users from the US and Spain have stated that they can easily acquire a braille display, but just for educational and professional purposes, never as a private tool.
    • Additionally, users comment that in post-Soviet and Latin American countries in general, it is not possible to acquire a braille display unless you buy it abroad.
    • In the case of Asia, according to one user who reported it, braille displays have a very poor quality. This user did not specify which country.
    • Finally, one user added that, sometimes it is necessary to acquire two displays, in order to keep using one as the other is sent for repair, since they are often in need of maintenance.

    About functionality in terms of price, we would like to transcribe what one of the users stated: Piezoelectric is a proven technology. More massive production of Braille cells would be likely to lower the prices of Braille devices so that unscrupulous resellers do not take advantage of the situation to practice prohibitive pricing under the pretext that the community of people concerned is not commercially profitable by the user.

    2. And referring to maintenance and durability, here we collect what users gave us:

    48 persons believe that: dots are usually Defective, poorly retractable and noticeable, uneven. Braille cells should be more protected to prevent such frequent repair or cleaning. Useful life of hardware should be long-lasting.

    3. About functionality in itself

    answers could be subdivided in to Hardware improvement, and Software and additional features.

    A. Hardware improvement:
    • 21 users believe that these devices should be small, easy to handle and to carry.
    • 4 users think displays should include speech exit.
    • 24 users told us that: more multi-line devices are needed, in order to handle games, programming, languages, math, geometrical shapes, images, Excel charts, music, multiple professional fields, and tactile graphics. To this respect, 3 of said users added that Monarch, along with other tablet designs, will be a very useful tool.
    • 6 users stated that note takers with a qwerty keyboard will become more popular, as they are more comfortable and easier to handle.
    • 8 users argue that there are USB connection problems currently.
    • 8 users indicated there should be more stable and easier Bluetooth connection, even to multiple devices.
    • 5 persons said these displays should include an easily replaceable, durable and strong battery.
    • 5 users consider there should be a larger variety of sizes and models. In addition to this, one of those users added that: Manufacturers should work together to simplify the functionality of Braille displays (easily switch to another model)
    • According to 4 users, the number of thumb keys should be increased.
    • 1 user stated that: It would be great if Active Braille’s microphone could also be used for audio recordings.
    • 5 persons believe these displays should be as silent as possible.
    • 2 users commented that spare parts should be on sale and accessible.
    • 4 users believe that: Cases should be more practical to fasten and unfasten.
    • 6 users consider that producers should explore alternatives to piezoelectric modules.
    B. Software and additional features:
    • There were 30 users who stated what we will summarize as follows: Connected devices are much better than note takers, which are slower and left behind in storage, ram, speed, features, wireless capabilities, file formats, system releases, error reports, etc.
    • 8 users think that: Shortcuts for different functions are difficult to remember, should be more intuitive. They should be equated to those in Windows or in Apple.
    • 5 users wrote that: Note takers should represent the whole page layout and allow you to read whole paragraphs instead of lines.
    • 7 users said that: braille displays should include fewer additional functions, in order for them to become more practical to those who just do not need them.
    • 5 users indicated that: braille displays should be ready to use in any code, both, standard and contracted braille.
    • 1 user suggests that: users should be able to write BRF files in the braille display as a standalone note pad, for music and languages.
    • Another user stated that: google should be more involved in note takers.
    • 1 user indicated that Apple should be more responsible to solve complaints, every time there is a phone update.
    • 1 user remarks that: Displays should be able to connect to public kiosks, kindle, and other E-readers like remarkable e-paper tablet or Cobo Libra.
    • One user stated that: displays work perfectly with NVDA.
    • 1 user stated that: copying independent lines to the PC and vice versa should be simplified (especially in focus displays)
    • 7 users have mentioned the fact that: braille displays should be integrated much more closely into screen readers.
    • 2 users think that: reading and downloading whole books should be possible.
    • One user mentioned that there are problems recognizing some braille tables.
    • 2 users consider that braille displays should allow us to save documents in the cloud, should be more accessible in Web pages, and when sending Emails.
    • 1 user thinks these devices should incorporate artificial intelligence.
    • There is one user who said S/he wont use a note taker until he can save in Word.
    • According to 4 users, pairing with a computer or smartphone doesn’t always work well; sometimes the Braille display simply fails. Starting and shutting down the PC is not enough.
    • Two users think there is Support incompatibility between languages spoken and dot patterns.
    • Two users believe that Better international cooperation between manufacturers would be important to facilitate foreign language learning with Braille (misrepresented or incorrect accents/characters should not appear in foreign language documents).

    We will transcribe now individual statements.

    This statement, coming from one of the users contains a few petitions in one: it would be practical for my model to have a memory card reader that supports up to 1TB of capacity, accessible both with and without the computer. A rotary volume knob would also come in handy. Considering the high price of braille displays and the low price of smart phones, it wouldn’t make things significantly more expensive to combine the two into one device.

    Still another user stated that: screen readers shouldn’t be too language-heavy; every now and then, in certain application windows and also on input fields in dialog boxes, the Braille display is empty, meaning it doesn’t display anything, even though something is clearly there. This kind of thing mostly happens in web-based applications.

    Here comes one of those transcriptions we keep literally faithful to the original, as it contains several suggestions, which might be of interest to producers: it would also be desirable, if you happen to need the full font, to be able to choose between the basic font and the other font with the special characters e.g., sh, ch, and the others, which you prefer. The email addresses would also be good if they were displayed in contracted braille, like in the older Jaws with the rule-based translation, which is no longer available in the newer program. Humanware’s Braillenotetouch program should also have rule-based translation, for those who don’t like the new stuff from RTFC. This way users could choose what they prefer.

    One user added: In general, the accessibility of major software manufacturers (such as: Microsoft, HP, SAP etc.) needs to be improved.

    And here are two other comments received, addressed to producers:
    – What simply doesn’t exist yet and what I would really like is a mobile Brl line like the Pronto 18 or the Braille Sense with Windows and Jaws or NVDA. The wonderful advantage of Braille is that we can use these few Braille keys to enter all commands that would otherwise require the comparatively large qwerty keyboard. Why don’t we take advantage of this advantage? Baum’s Pronto already had this ingenious concept. Unfortunately, it was not developed further.

    It would be very useful as a reading option when you are giving a lecture or when someone is speaking, the option for all the text to be displayed in a single cell, appearing letter by letter, and the speed could be adjusted in this way just as a reading option. Having your finger fixed on a single cell can be read faster.

    4. Leaving aside hardware and software improvement as such, we also obtained a couple general recommendations we find worth adding to this analysis:
    A. Recommendations addressed to manufacturers and experts:
    • 24 users are convinced that more training in braille display usage is needed: peer training, self-training, training courses and clearer instructions provided by manufacturers, clear manuals and videos.
    B. General recommendations addressed to regional authorities or leaders:
    • One user claimed that in The Netherlands it should be legal to read books with your braille display.
    • another user argues that in German-speaking countries there should be a direct option to download a book when using a braille display as a standalone device.
    C. Recommendations addressed to educational leaders in general:
    • 3 Users mentioned that children should be trained to use a braille display at a very young age. They believe this acquisition is much harder for adults.
    D. Recommendations and comments addressed to braille working group of EBU:
    • 15 users expressed their joy for having had the opportunity to participate in this survey. They find it highly relevant.
    • However, one user told us: It is somewhat complicated to take part in this survey without a Google account. I assume that there are some users who are deterred from completing this questionnaire.
    5. And finally, we will offer a summary of the main evaluative judgments offered by users, about braille displays as such:
    • There were 4 persons who do not use, or no longer use a braille display.
    • 4 users indicated they lack experience in using it adequately.
    • One user indicated that these devices do not eliminate our need for printed braille.
    • 2 users think braille displays are not as efficient as speech, but rather, they are just a complement.
    • However, another user said that they are much better than speech for editing and spelling, and thus, they cannot be substituted.
    • 4 users think they are the very best option for deafblind persons.
    • 6 users say they are the best technological development in the last 50 years, and that they represent the solution for the future.
    • 52 users state that they highly value the possibility of using a braille display for personal and professional reasons, to facilitate inclusion, and for the use of braille itself, in order to prevent illiteracy.


    Using a questionnaire that offered ample space to answer our proposed questions but also to express their own opinions, we collected valuable responses from 912 respondents from 59 countries. Respondents from Germany (32.46%), Spain (17.65%) and France (12.61%) were in the majority of the responses. The responses collected from countries around the world indicate that most of the responses to the questionnaire were sent from countries where there is more support for the use of braille, both in terms of training to work with it and in terms of government funding for it.

    Of all respondents, up to 90.24% were active braille users. An increasing almost 10% of the respondents also answered the question why they do not use the braille display. Almost half of these respondents, namely 46 people, answered that they do not use the braille display because it is too expensive and another 21 people answered that they do not use it due to lack of financial support to purchase them. Thus, a total of 67 people (7.34%) identified the price and availability for purchase as a clear barrier to using braille displays.

    Variety of braille display devices

    The survey shows that the most used braille display among the participants of this questionnaire is the 40-character braille display from Vispero and Freedom Scientific, respectively, as 37.78% of the participants identified these braille displays as their main devices used. The 40-character braille displays from Papenmeier, Humanware and VisioBraille were also in the top positions. However, the trend towards portable braille lines, i.e. lines that have up to 20 characters, is interesting. In the survey, in question 4, as many as 35.40% of people said they use these portable braille lines, so more than a third of all respondents have experience reading braille on these small but handy devices.

    From the answers to question 4, the question about braille models, it can be inferred that braille use is not only a matter of working at the computer, in education or at work, but also a matter of everyday activities, such as reading books while travelling, working with religious and prayer literature, being able to send messages via IM, and so on. Although the responses to question 5 show a lower percentage of portable line users (16.39%), this is due to the fact that in this question people answered about their main device used.

    It is clear from the responses to question 5 that 40 character braille displays are increasingly the main device for working and studying, and portable, less character-intensive lines are an equally important complementary solution to braille work. At the same time, however, it can be concluded that almost half of all users of small, portable braille displays use these braille displays as their main, and often only braille device.

    The use of braille displays in the lives of blind respondents

    From the responses to question 6, it is evident that as many as 86.40% of the respondents use a braille display as a device connected to a computer. Surprising were the findings that almost half of the respondents also use the braille display in conjunction with a mobile phone (47.91%) or as a stand-alone device (44.53%). These findings support the idea that the 40-character line still remains a stabile braille device of computer set-ups for braille acquisition in the digital environment and there is a continued need to enhance their functionality in this regard. At the same time, there is an interest among users in connecting braille displays to mobile phones or using them as stand-alone devices, thus clearly demonstrating the need for portability, use in the field, when travelling, etc.

    In response to question 7, the majority of respondents (71.25%) indicated that they use braille to operate a computer or phone. This was also the answer to the most commonly used functionality of braille lines. In addition, the functions of reading books or newspapers or using the braille display keyboard for typing were also mentioned to a similar extent. In their responses, respondents specified the use of their braille devices in more detail (see analysis of responses to question 7). From these responses it was clearly identifiable that the use of digital braille is still very important today, with respondents frequently mentioning the use of displays for activities related to study, music, work, programming and so on.

    The answers to question 11 show that up to 74.00% of the respondents use the braille display daily and almost 90% of the respondents use the braille display daily or several times a week.

    In response to question 8, approximately one-third of respondents answered that they always use Braille exclusively and rely on Braille for presentations. A third responded that they never make presentations. Considering only those respondents who do make presentations, the result is that up to 42.45% of them rely exclusively on Braille when making presentations and another 19.36% always use Braille along with voice output when making presentations. Of the respondents who make presentations, up to 61.81% always present using braille and braille is key in their presentation. How well the braille functionality is adapted to the needs of presenting is also evident from other questions, but respondents also frequently mentioned greater flexibility in working with multiple file types and better control of the connected device (computer or phone) as important suggestions for improvement.

    For questions 12 and 13, we asked respondents about the features that are most important to them on braille displays and how they use the braille display for reading or writing. Of all the features listed, the most important to respondents is that the braille display has a Cursor Routing feature (71.63%). The least interesting feature was the automatic detection of the finger at the end of the line, the second least interesting feature for the respondents was the internal applications built into the braille display. The importance of the other features ranged about equally, reaching more or less half of the responses of all respondents (from 43.72% to 60.93%). A detailed table is provided in the analysis of the responses to question 12. Thus, from these responses it is possible to identify the great importance of the cursor recall function, without which almost three quarters of the respondents would find the braille display significantly less convenient.

    From the answers to question 13 it can be concluded that for braille displays the use of 8-point braille wins over the use of 6-point braille, both for reading and writing. More than half of the respondents prefer reading in 8-point braille and the difference between 8-point and 6-point is more pronounced than it is for writing using a braille display. Also important was the finding that a significantly large proportion of respondents (22.26%) do not use the braille display for writing at all.

    Introducing braille displays into the lives of the blind and training in their use

    In answering question 9, we sought to find out at what age the respondents had had the opportunity to become familiar with working with braille. However, we cannot evaluate this question responsibly because we did not ask for the age of the respondents and we also did not take sufficient account of the fact that many respondents were unable to access braille displays as children or during school because braille displays were not available at the time. Most respondents (34.20%) encountered braille display during further education as students or at work (28.77%). Although it is not possible to evaluate the responses well enough, it can be concluded that braille displays most often enter the lives of blind people while studying or in employment.

    In this regard, the question is raised whether their use and training in their use should be less dependent on further education or employment, brail being the basis of literacy for blind people. However, this is also a question towards institutions providing services to blind people, e.g. how often does skills training include working with braille, whether libraries offer the alternative of borrowing braille and digital braille books instead of paper, etc.

    Such a question may be legitimised by the fact that in the answers to question 10 more than half of the respondents answered that they had learned to work with the braille display primarily by themselves, by reading manuals and instructions. At the same time, it is also necessary to consider the reasons why approximately the same number of respondents indicated two options – using the braille display after training with professionals and using it based on information and support from other blind users. This proportion of responses could indicate weaker opportunities to acquire skills in using braille displays on a global scale, and there is reason to continually emphasise the need for such training and courses for blind users.

    Respondents’ suggestions for improving the situation of braille and braille use in the digital environment

    In general terms, users show that they greatly value the opportunity of using a braille display. They find it absolutely necessary in order to keep up with knowledge, education, technological and professional development, and autonomy, through the use of braille, which ensures literacy.

    Although some users are fully satisfied with their management of these devices, and they think they are the greatest technological development of this century, most of them still think displays should be improved, both in terms of hardware and software; they should be updated, easy to pair with smartphones and computers, protected and repaired, maintained, and acquired at a reasonable price, unless some financial strategies are implemented to improve this sort of elitist situation at present.

    There seems to be an alarming situation arising from the research. Many users complained about decreased quality of braille displays or installed braille cells, while the prices for the reparation are very high.

    The results show us, that there is certainly a market for both complex and simple braille devices. But it is important that users can make an informed choice. E.g. some users regret that their display does not have cursor routing keys. Others have a device with a Braille keyboard and in practice they realise that it hinders them more than that it helps them.

    show everything in Braille, don’t rely on speech

    Finally, users also need to get a better training, on the one hand, because they lack experience, but mainly, because the use of these displays tends to be complex, and not so intuitive.

    Final proposals for braille display manufacturers

    Aim of this questionnaire dwelled in the need of better monitoring of braille display usage in different countries. We though wanted more than just monitoring,we wanted to bring our findings into practice in the further discussions with braille displays producers and manufacturers. Therefore we bring in front some particularly important messages from the respondents from this questionnaire and offer them for braille display producers to consider and perhaps discuss with us in May during the City Sight exhibition in Frankfurt and in close future.

    Not only the braille producers can find here important feedback from the braille users, but also braille trainers, teachers and most of all those, who are able to decide whether to equip a blind child with a braille display, whether it is worth or not. For this we have the unanimous message: Yes, please, go ahead in financing the braille display usage since early childhood and along with the EBU Position paper on Access to Reading and Using Braille – a matter of the future, allow the blind children to be really literate. Only through braille they can access the ducation with effective text processing, spelling and formatting skills.

    Here are few recommendations from the participants for braille display producers. Nevertheless, we encourage you to go through all questions, mostly questions 14 to 18, where you can find a lot more or less specific problems users encounter when working with braille display.

    • Producers should explore alternatives to piezoelectric modules for braille cells.
    • Producers should improve the quality, stability and longevity of the Braille modules.
    • Producers should consider suggested improvement aspects in terms of software and hardware. This basically includes:
      • Permanent update in relation to smartphone and computer advances, so that these devices can be adequately paired,
      • Reliable bluetooth connection with all kinds of devices,
      • Warranty of repair and maintenance,
      • Considerations on size, keyboard, dot quality, connection, battery, spare parts, multi-line display production, codes, braille tables, and file formats, among others
    • Producers should develop uniform set of braille display keyboard commands for all modules to perform basic commands, keystrokes. Many users find the braille display commands and hotkeys very difficult to learn and re-learn when changing the display. There should be a basic bundle of commands working across all displays when handling the computer, Android or IOS smart phone.
    • As another step of uniformity of keystrokes, producers should look for easyer and as much uniform way as possible to perform the operations on computer or smart phone through the braille display keyboard.
    • An implementation of USB HID drivers is needed. Users call for the standardization of the USB connectivity even without special driver for particulard braille display.
    • In braille displays as stand-alone devices, producers should Improve the devices’ battery life, use up-to-date hardware, and make sure of support a variety of file formats, at least for reading, but also for writing. One frequently mentioned format is .EPUB.
    • Producers should provide better training to clients along with clear manuals and instructions in different forms, such as text guidelines, audio and video manuals.
    • Representation of content on the braille display must be optimised; it is currently focused mostly on speech output.
    • Better representation and managing of different braille tables is needed.
    • Qwerty/qwertz keyboards should be offered as option.
    • For the purpose of ergonomic aspect, the braille cells should be as close to the computer keyboard as possible.

    Additional general suggestions not only for braille display producers:

    • Many users are convinced that more training in braille display usage is needed: peer training, self-training, training courses and clearer instructions provided by manufacturers, clear manuals and videos.
    • Producers, distributors and visual impairment dedicated organisations should try to establish strategies and agreements in favor of price adjustment and regulation with states and countries.

    Other interesting Resources (external links)

    Other resources about braille displays:

    1 thought on “Results of the survey “Braille Display Usage”

    1. On Thursday, 16th May EBU, SightCity Frankfurt and the German Federation of the Blind and Partially Sighted invite 10:00-11:30 am to a talking session about the use of electronic braille on SightCity, Sudio, 1st floor or online:
      Users can discuss here how to improve braille displays. The results will be discussed with producers of braille displays and screenreaders.
      We look forward to meeting you there.

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