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Implicit Braille

They ought to put Braille bumps on keyboards so that after a couple of years of typing, we will all have learned Braille. Maybe. [Tags: ]

28 Responses to “Implicit Braille”

  1. That’s a great idea! I love it

  2. One problem is that F and J already have bumps that help you put your hands on the keys correctly. Adding more bumps would screw over people who touch-type. Also, the 5 on my number pad has a bump.

    Interesting idea though.

  3. I worked with blind people, training them to use computers. We never used braille on a keyboard other then for training purposes (e.g. learning the location of the characters). Thereafter, the blind people learned to type, yups, blind. Combined with speech and Braille output it enables blind (and poorly sighted) people to work with (even Windows) computers almost like a sighted person would.

    Before feeling the braille, people would haved pushed the button already.

  4. what would be the point of learning brail if your not blind? other than the novelty of being able to use the drive through atm with your eyes closed

  5. Braille is a dying language for blind people but it is great for people making speeches who want to maintain constant eyecontact with the audience.

  6. Yeah, not much purpose to learning it, although the tactile response might make you a better typist.

    David S., what’s replacing Braille?

  7. I made almost this exact same post on my blog something like four years ago. Unfortunately that post is buried in a zipped archive somewhere. Thanks for reminding me–I still wonder if it would actually work.

  8. i think it’s a good idea.

    agree with david S but maximillian has a point. a keyboard mod will be nice.

  9. “David S., what’s replacing Braille?”

    on second thoughts, practicing for speeches is still the best way to prep but knowing braille after subconsciously learning it for a couple of years might still be useful–and the more people who can keep it alive the better.

  10. What’s the point in learning braille?
    Read a novel and cycle at the same time!

  11. “Combined with speech and Braille output it enables blind (and poorly sighted) people to work with (even Windows) computers almost like a sighted person would.”

    As a teacher of the blind and visually impaired, I can not agree enough with this statement. This is what my job is all about- not adapting the world, but leading my students to higher levels of personal adaptation behavior that make the entire world accessible as it is.

    I would add that there are a variety of commercially available and home brewed “stickers” that can adapt key board keys with large print, high contrast, and yes even tactile cues. Many key boards already come with little bumps on the f and j keys. There is also a lot of software available that can transfer the key activation of a key board to a 6 key system that mimics a manual Brailler.

    In response to the ideas about everyone learning Braille, I have to say that Braille is a much harder system to learn than sight reading. Humans are hard wired to get the majority of their data via vision. Switching to another medium is really really hard. Braille itself is more than just a letter for letter substitution system. It is a complex code that uses code specific shorthand, symbols, etc. Add to this Braille Math code, Nemeth, which uses the same symbols as print code, but in difference reference points that are entirely contextually based, and you have a major learning issue. People think of tactually accessing Braille as a substitution for sight reading, but it really is more like a system override.

    The vast majority of Teachers of the Blind learn to read Braille code visually.

  12. Have you ever actually watched someone who reads Braille or tried to do so yourself? Everyone I have ever seen uses a single finger to detect the raised dots. Adding it to a keyboard would mean that you would be really good at recognizing the “feel” of the “a” character under your left pinky, which is completely useless if you want to learn how to read Braille… Maybe if we were all really one-armed hunt-and-peck typists it would be useful, but for everyone else this is a waste of time.

  13. Evgen, I have watched blind people read Braille, and been through the exercise of trying it myself. I wonder whether there’s enough synesthesia (wrong word, I know) that would transfer pinky learning to pointer learning…

  14. I’m sorry, but in addition to the other comments above, braille is read by sliding the finger horizontally across the “bumps”. Typing doesn’t perform that action and so it the feeling it produces will not help people trying to read braille. Further when sighted people read braille they do it better by looking at the bumps, rather than feeling them.

    Final note – Research (done, IIRC in Cambdrige MA) has shown that blind people use the vision center of the brain to process the braille their fingertips are “feeling” and that sighted people would actually need to be blindfolded 24×7 in order to free up their vision centers to accomplish the same ability. Basically, they would need to lose their ability to see.

  15. At least one someone already makes them, and here’s a source: http://www.datacal.com/braille-overlays.htm

    I don’t think that those would help someone become fluent in braille as much as they would help someone be able to decipher braille. I think that would be very helpful if one was sighted but had to work with braille on a regular basis. Reading it might not be easy, but it would probably be more do-able.

  16. Lots of valid information here. I am learning to do braille translation and hope to become certified soon. Even though the idea of putting braille on a keyboard mya not work exactly, it sure has opened a great dialogue. I have tried to actually “read” braille with my fingertips and know that it is a long, long process that takes a lot of practice. Reading it visually does help me to do some proofreading on my own, but usually I rely on my blind co-workers to proof for me. Braille is NOT dead!! More and more kids are learning it in school and there is a big push in the community to keep it so. Audio tapes and computer speech does not replace what you get from reading braille. It gets into your brain differently and studies have shown that people with visual impairements who learn to read braille have a higher levels of literacy all around. Keep talking about Braille and keep using it!!

  17. Im curious what would the purpose be for the average
    person to learn braille. Maybe we should blindfold people against their will so they learn to get around their home without sight??????

  18. In my elementary school, there use to be flexible plastic covers placed over some of the regular keyboards in the school’s computer lab.

    Each key, slipped into its respective slot on the plastic cover. And each slot had braille on it, corresponding to the letter or number.

    When I was seven, the covers annoyed the crap out of me, but now, I think it’s kind of awesome.

  19. “What’s the purpose?”…

    Some people actually like to learn. Purpose is secondary.

  20. Watching blind people reading braille you also notice that they scan L-R and then R-L on alternate lines (even though the text is always L-R). Its a tip that sighted people can learn to accelerate their reading speeds.

  21. But, Paul, if we scan L-R and then R-L, we’ll read the second line backwards, so that we mentally have to rejumble the ending so that it’s at the beginning, which is too much like reading German!

  22. another big problem with this idea:

    blind people use their visual cortex to process braille. if you are still using your visual cortex for things like seeing.. you will have a VERY hard time learning braille.. in fact, it will be nearly impossible.

    http://www.google.com/search?q=blind+braille+visual+cortex

  23. the reason i’d like to learn braille:

    i’d like to be able to give my eyes a rest from reading, using an electronic braille reader instead.

    (too much reading has left me nearsighted)

  24. Re: Maybe we should blindfold people against their will so they learn to get around their home without sight??????

    Actually most firemen will recommend exactly that, especially if you have kids. Idea is that if your house is on fire, chances are there will be so much smoke you can’t see. You need to know how to navigate your house blind in order to get out in an emergency.

  25. One of my aunts teaches visually-impaired children. When i was growing up and she would babysit me and my siblings,she would bring over this special typewriter that only typed braille. The keys were set up just like a normal typewriter,except that they had braille and English letters on each key. This typewriter required a special kind of paper,that was stiffer (more like a cardstock) that normal printer paper,to pick up the indentations of the braille. So,i guess that one could reason that you could learn braille,by having braille letters on the keys of your keyboard. I’m not sure if anyone has ever learned it that way,but it seems entirely possible. Oh,and as a fun activity for us,we would type up something that she had not read previously,and she would read it back to us in braille. An important thing to note is that my aunt is NOT visually-impaired herself. I can’t remember if she read it visually,or with her finger. Either way,she could read it. So,we always got a kick out of that. I can think of at least 2 good reasons for a seeing person to learn braille:
    1) If a visually-impaired person were to type something up,on an apparatus like i just described,you could read what they typed.
    2) Most people’s vision grows progressively weaker,as they grow older. If you developed this skill before you start losing your eyesight,you’ll be prepared.

    If nothing else,it will make you more cultured,which is always a good thing.

  26. Yeah, like if people move their mouths when they speak, we’ll all be able to lip read…? Nice idea, but in practice your brain will never notice the lips/braille unless it needs to, and if you are not blind or deaf, these senses won’t develop without a lot of effort.

  27. Pls help me i want 2 learn braill so that i could communicate wit my graddad coz he is getting old nd wat if 1 day he work up without his voice at least if i learn braill i could communicate wit him

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