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.
Mother absolutely LOVES her Prodigi! It's truly given her a new lease on life. She easily moves back and forth from read mode to live; reading newspaper obits, recipe cards, mail (although the machine doesn't read cursive, so letters are out unless they're printed), etc. Pictures are still a bit harder for her to see, but we're working on collecting her some better pictures. There are simply no words that can truly express our gratitude for this wonderful machine. Giving mom back some of her independence has worked wonders in restoring a "purpose" for her life. I'll sign off with a cute story. I awoke early the morning after we had set up the prodigi for mom, looking for mom. She was not in her bed. I didn't find her in the bathroom. I was beginning to get concerned. Then I saw her in the corning of the living room, at the desk...on her prodigi. She was totally engrossed in reading!!! Basically, you've given my mom back her eyesight! Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.
Now we can listen to internet radio on our Stream and find the stations we want creating station playlists and listening to the news. We have more flexibility when searching for books on Bookshare. We can look up words in Bookshare books or NFB-Newsline articles in Wikipedia and learn more about the item. I love my Victor Reader Stream even more than before. If you have not upgraded to the new Stream, it is time to do so. This new software is free.
The sense of freedom and triumph could probably only be understood by someone who, like me, had never been able to do something like this before unaccompanied. Thanks to the Breeze, this summer will be far less isolating for me than the last one. I've learned how to get to a mall and restaurant, my church, and a few other places including a centre where I volunteer once a week mentoring young people.
From a user in UK
I have been an avid radio enthusiast since the 1940s but this new feature has completely blown me away, it has revolutionized the way I listen to radio
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.