Video magnification is essential. Without it I could not read labels and prices while shopping, balance my check book, write checks or notes by hand, read addresses on letters, labels on prescriptions, the mail itself, find places on maps, enjoy pictures, or make sense of all of the clutter on forms. I can make some sense of TV so long as I sit close, but need well lit magnification to get the right channel and sound level. These are life tools.
The memory card holds voice notes, speech recordings, my favorite music, over one hundred audio books and much more. Using a computer screen reader and an ear bud to listen to a manuscript, I can record a reading on the VRS in my own voice for playback during conference and critique meetings. Feedback recordings at those meetings enable me to make changes to improve a manuscript without sighted help. This feature rich, powerful product is a blessing to own. I am seldom found without my Victor Reader Stream. It tucks neatly into a shirt pocket, jacket or purse. One never knows when a good book idea might pop up and I want to be ready when it does.
I have been using a HumanWare Trekker Breeze since August 2010 and it's the best aid I have along with my cane. I think of my Breeze as a friend and a helper so I would really like to let people know what a huge difference the Breeze can make to their independence and freedom.
I have used VoiceNote and BrailleNote products for the past ten years. Before that, the Keynote Companion saw me through university. I now use the BrailleNote Apex for wordprocessing, email, diary and recording phone records. It even gets a workout on my laptop as a braille display from time to time. When people see me working on an Apex, they are immediately assured that they can have confidence in my ability to get the job done.
The mobile market has exploded within the past few years and has really changed the way blind people work and play. With a big emphasis on iOS devices like the iPhone and the iPad, many people are wondering if dedicated devices for the blind are even relevant anymore. When I say dedicated devices I mean anything from GPS devices to note taking devices with braille displays attached. In this article I want to give you my opinion on why I still choose to use a dedicated device.
Let me clarify one thing really fast from the beginning. I use and own an iPhone and iPad. I also have a
Braille Note apex from HumanWare that I carry with me all the time. Now that we got that out of the way let's hit the main topic. Why I still choose to use a dedicated note taking device.
I remember getting introduced to the braille n speak in middle school and not understanding why the device existed. I used it all through middle school but never really felt the need to use it beyond an educational setting. During my seventh grade year I was transferred to a school for the blind in Kentucky. Along with getting a better social life than I had in public school I was introduced to a lot of the latest in blindness technology that I never knew existed. The first time I held the BrailleNote classic I fell in love with the crisp braille cells that felt like actual braille paper to me and the sturdiness of the device. I was still unsure of what the device could do for me beyond school, but I gave this new device a chance. After using it for only a week I carried it with me where ever I went. I was even given permission to use the BrailleNote classic over the summer. Before GPS was around I used the BrailleNote to create a little book of instructions for my O&M classes. I used the BrailleNote in English class to work on papers. I used every aspect of the BrailleNote from the address book to the book reader. I even used it for presentations and for teaching the BrailleNote to other students at the school. As the software improved and the BrailleNote got faster and even more powerful I gained a better understanding of what the device was capable of doing.
Ok, so now that you know what I used the Braille Note for back then, what about now, when the world of technology is filled not only with dedicated devices but mainstream devices like android phones and iOS devices. I still think there is a place for the devices. Being in college I have a busy lifestyle. Keeping up with class assignments, logging notes and sessions with my sound engineering classes, to learning how to read braille music it can get pretty hectic. I find the BrailleNote a very useful tool even though my phone is right by my side. You may be wondering what can the BrailleNote do that your phone can’t. There are a lot of reasons to have a dedicated device.
1. Software that just works.
With mobile devices, apps and the system software get updated all the time. If you are not careful or the manufacturer of the phone you own breaks something that was working but now isn't you are stuck with that inaccessible part of your phone until it's fixed.
2. Keystrokes are quicker
gestures and learning the layout of your phone are essential in learning a mainstream product but if you are trying to be productive, flicking to a button or trying to find a control by moving your finger across the screen just wastes time. With a few key strokes I can jump in and out of apps on the BrailleNote and not have to worry about if I found the right control or button.
3. Right where you left off.
With dedicated note taking devices you can shut off the device without having to leave what you were working on and the device will remember what you were last doing and put you back in that spot.
4. Battery life
Battery life on the BrailleNote is better than on my iPhone any day of the week. I do have an external battery pack but even with that the BrailleNote still beats it.
Ok, some valid points were made but what about traditional braille displays versus note takers? I'm glad you asked. With a braille display you can only use it if it's connected to your computer or your Smartphone basically rendering it useless without a connected device. Whereas with a dedicated note taker you can be productive with your Smartphone as well while writing a report for instance. This functionality makes dedicated note taking devices like the BrailleNote apex from HumanWare in my opinion a win win situation for someone who wants functionality with the mainstream and blindness technology at the same time.
For over 25 years, HumanWare's inspirational vision has resulted in a range of highly intuitive and intelligent solutions that empower people who are blind or with low vision by giving them the independence to participate effectively within a sighted world.