Looking Through the Crystal Ball: Innovations in Braille Technology for the 21st Century and Beyond

Looking Through the Crystal Ball: Innovations in Braille Technology for the 21st Century and Beyond

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all right so welcome to uh the first in the series of uh world braille day events called looking through the crystal ball innovations in braille technology for the 21st century and beyond so before we start as with all online conferences please follow good etiquette by keeping yourself on mute when you're not speaking um so for iphone users that's the bottom left corner alt a on pc option a on mac use the raise hand option when you have a question so double tap your name in the participants list on an iphone or go into the more tab and find the race hand there alt y on a pc or option y on a mac and save the use of the chat feature for urgent questions and comments once again the information part of the session will be recorded and later posted on the braille literacy canada youtube channel and we will stop the recording prior to the question and answer portion so my name is rhiann le pere i am the braille and accessibility testing coordinator at the national network for ecuador library service i'll introduce our wonderful panelists shortly but the world braille day planning organizations acknowledge the historic oppression of land cultures and original peoples in what we know now as canada we respect and affirm the inherent and treaty rights of all indigenous peoples across this land and will continue to honor the commitments to self-determination and sovereignty we have made into indigenous nations and peoples please take a moment to acknowledge the lands on which you live work and play rail literacy canada the canadian council of the blind the cnib foundation the center for equitable equitable library access the national network for equitable library service and the provincial resource center for the visually impaired had a lot of fun working together and are pleased to deliver this session of events during the month of january in celebration of world braille day access to communication in the widest sense is access to knowledge we must be treated as equals and communication is the way we can bring this about braille is knowledge and knowledge is power and that's a quote by louis braille so i'd like to introduce our panelists for today we have debbie gillespie and she is a consultant in digital digital accessibility and wayfinding yep bring on those braille signs and currently a member of the toronto advisory committee on accessible transit so one fun thing about debbie is that anything chocolate is always good and we also have jen golden and she has a master's degree in linguistics and is an accessibility compliance specialist with crawford technologies she loves starbucks orange chocolate and british literature not always in that order we also have kai lee and he is an accessibility analyst at the national network for equitable library service he is also currently studying studying kinesiology at york university practices krav maga and is an avid reader and although it doesn't say it he also likes chocolate kim kilpatrick is the coordinator of the ccb's get together with technology program and a professional storyteller as well as loving all things about braille she especially loves guide dogs and dark chocolate natalie martinello holds a phd in vision science with a specialization in blind and low vision rehabilitation and is the president of braille literacy canada during her spare time she loves reading eating chocolate drinking espresso and in normal times traveling on behalf of braille literacy canada the canadian council of the blind the cnib foundation the center for equitable library access the national network for equitable library service and the provincial resource center for the visually impaired thank you for celebrating world braille day with us we won't what oh that's the last slide sorry about that let's get to our panel all right so uh our wonderful panelists are going to each have some questions that they're going to answer one or more more of um so we'll get to hear from everybody uh for this first question and each panelist will have two minutes to um give their answer and i'll give them about a 15 second warning when their time is up um and if you have any questions along the way we'll definitely take questions at the end so the first question is what is the earliest braille gadget or device you remember using are there any braille tech relics from the past you'd love to make i'd love to see make a triumphant comeback and uh let's see natalie let's start with you all right so i guess one of the earliest devices i remember was versa brailler so this would have been in the early 90s and i only have vague memories of using it but it was basically an electronic device that had a braille display and it worked with the use of a decoding cassette and it was the first real refreshable braille display so it was a breakthrough at the time i remember it being big but i really liked pressing down on the keys and knowing that i could write braille with it the other earliest device i remember is the braille and speak and this would this was a portable note taker and it had braille input keys just like a perkins brailler and speech output but it didn't have a braille display so i think it's fun looking back because you really get a sense of how far we've come while i don't necessarily you know miss using those earlier tools i do miss maybe the portability of some of those earlier braille displays like the braille and speak it was very light and portable and so i think that would be something i would like to advocate for more and more in future devices awesome thank you uh jen would you like to go next sure um i had those devices as well i'll be it just a few years earlier than natalie because i'm a little bit older um and i thought that that might happen i figured we'd all maybe mention the versa braille but um so i another thing that i thought of that i remember i had at one time was it was a keychain but the keychain part was like a braille cell where you could push there were six i don't know buttons or whatever that you could move up and down to create you know one character i think it was something that's supposed to help people learn braille one of the things that i this isn't exactly a braille device but blind people above a certain age will remember the opticon and uh that basically you would put something on it there was a camera and you could read like the print on an envelope for example but it was raised you put your finger in this thing and these little pins would be in the shape of the letter so it's not exactly braille but it was very cool the other thing that i love which i know either love this or you hate this but um thermoform which as i do most of my reading on braille displays now i don't see a lot of thermoform anymore but i kind of liked it um thank you um kim well i guess uh they've stolen some of mine but uh because i also had a versa braille that was the first electronic braille device i had of course jumping back the first braille devices i had were perkins which i loved very much and a slight slate stylus very many slate style eye styluses um i also had the braille light so that was in the same family as the braille and speak it was like a brown speak but it had a braille display on it and i would say it was one of the most durable displays i ever had it lasted for years and it never seemed to break down so what i would like to see in terms of triumphant return is a braille device that is so durable and hearty and protected that we don't have to be sending it back for repairs because any of us who use braille know that doing that means you're without braille and often many of us have just one device so you're without braille for a period of time so uh i i'd like also to bring back the wonder of having that first electronic braille device like that the uh versa braille it just was amazing to me because i'd never seen anything like it before so that's what i'd say about that thank you thank you uh kai would you like to go next sure um so i think for me uh the device that i remember very fondly and using growing up was the uh bro light millennium 40 um that was my first note taker and it as i think a lot of other people described it's very durable and it wasn't perfect but there were some really neat features especially for its time especially the ability to do a little bit of coding and you know playing around with the different voices and the synthesizers and or the specific synthesizer that it used so um that's that's something that i i remember very fondly um and in terms of things i would like to see make a comeback not necessarily specific device or even specific characteristics but really more of a feature where i remember when you turned on the braille light you were immediately dumped into the notepad and it was pretty much instant you didn't have to worry about boot time or anything like that uh that was really nice and i think some of these newer displays are trying to emulate that but it's not exactly the same because there's still a little bit of a delay with some of these um operating systems that uh that they're using because it's a little bit more complex but um that's something i'd like to see a lot more displays have thank you and debbie please hi um that's the trouble with going last most of mine have been spoken except that um some of the things like i agree with kai on the braille light um as far as instant access to when you turned it on the instant power i haven't seen a device that does it quite as well as the braille light did and i won't answer the other questions about come back and game changers because i have a feeling they're further on in the list but i do remember like even braille readiness things sometimes i love the technological side but i think in the beginning now not so much perhaps today but in the beginning when when the electronic devices first came out my first was the alva 340 and you had to know a fair bit about other stuff in order to use it like computers you had to be comfortable with so and that was a barrier for some people and you know i spent a lot of time getting people comfortable with their technology in order so that they could use braille and that seemed a bit you know counter-intuitive but um learning braille and at such a young age i did you know even the things like learning to do textures on those touch and tell books i mean not you don't think about it now but it was it really did prepare you for using your hands to discern information thank you everyone's under time this is wonderful um this next question is for both natalie and kim i think kim will get you to go first in natalie ii and the question is we've seen lots of multi-line displays come onto the scene over recent years what excites you most about the move towards multi-line devices and where would you like to these where would you like to see these go next so i would say that when i saw the first multi-line device and i did test the canoe the newt 360 i was just absolutely out of my mind with with joy about this um because as anyone who's used a braille display knows it's only one line of braille and the great thing about the multi-line was you could you could jump to the top of the page you could skim around you could you don't you know review a page you could look and especially for things um like braille music poetry um scripts that i work with when i'm i'm preparing storytelling shows those type of things is really amazing to be able to skim around certainly math or graphics things like that would be great the one thing i would love to see as the multi-line so at the moment the multi-line displays are standalone only so you just load material on them they do not connect to a computer but what i would love to see is them connected to a pc or your phone or anything so that you could read say a calendar in the way that the site of person could read it a spreadsheet you could see the whole spreadsheet you could go through it you know the way a sighted person would maps google maps or things like that you could do um i really hope the multi-line goes a long way i'd love to see also a tablet full of braille so that's all i'll say about that but i i'm just so excited about multi-line braille displays i just love the thought of it and i want to have one sometime i just and just get excited about it yes so i i echo everything that kim has said braille users have been dreaming about multi-line braille displays forever and it's exciting to see things like the commute kind of come into come onto the market and and exciting to see what other organizations are working on as well um it makes a really huge difference because it might be difficult for people to understand from the outside because when you're reading braille you have access to the characters and words that are under your fingers so why would it matter if you're reading you know on a single line display versus a full page and i think it really comes down to having that spatial information like kim mentioned so um you know one of the things i really love about physical paper braille is knowing where i am in a book and it just it feels like an accomplishment knowing that you're about to finish one page and go on to the next page and then even i do a lot of research and so having access to like a full page of of data or statistics or math content is really important especially because there are so few um you know like there's an under-representation of blind people in the stem field so um i think also um having worked with a lot of adult braille learners there's a lot of research that shows that if you have access to a full page of braille it really helps with your comprehension because you remember where you saw something where you read something or felt something in the case of braille one of the things i'm most excited about is to see how we can create multi-line braille displays that are more affordable so using more affordable materials which is one of the reasons why it has been so expensive in the past and like kim said braille on mainstream tablets would be very exciting awesome um so this next question is for jen back in the day a braille document referred to only a paper file but now we talk about brfs um there's been lots of advancements here including the move towards ebrf for those who aren't aware can you explain what a brf is and what will be different with ebrfs and then what excites you most about where this is heading sure well um for those of you who don't know a brf is brf is the file name the file extension and it's uh braille braille ready file and basically what it is is a text based file that you know if you have a a note taker braille display you can read it on that you can use it you can open it in like notepad or notepad plus plus um and i'm just going to say right now because i have like two minutes a really good explanation of what's going on in this situation can get a little bit technical and i'm not going to be able to do that so this will be kind of high level but some of the the major challenges with the brf file is because it's just text based there's no markup it's not navigable the way that you know you can navigate an accessible pdf or word file using like you know h to go through headings and things like that and what happens is a transcriber let's say they use duxbury to create the braille file they put all that markup in there right they put h1's h2s lists all those kinds of things and then when you save to brf it's all stripped away and you're back to sort of just this text-based um ascii representation so ebrf is the the concept is basically that we would have brf files that do have this markup that would be navigable that would be more dynamic um and and i can't also say a ton about it because it's still in development and it's um kind of yeah it's still it's still kind of under development and isn't really officially public in detail but basically the ebrf would work sort of it's kind of based on xhtml for those of you who have some familiarity with things like epub and all that kind of markup language stuff um and so essentially the thing about ebrf is that it will solve the major problems with brf files they will become navigable you'll be able to retain the markup language so you could have a massive ebrf file and you could search by heading you could kind of like you could with like let's say a daisy file or something along those lines as well and the the idea is to make them backward compatible so you can go back and forth between brf and ebrf if that's what you needed again i apologize because this really needs a lot more time to go into but basically the thing that excites me about it is that i think ebrf what it's going to do is make it so that for those who maybe don't choose to access a brf file you know let's see you have the choice between word and pdf and brf and and some people will choose the word or the pdf simply because it's navigable and searchable and so what ebrf will do is actually address the drawbacks that we've currently find in brf files so this might sound a little bit geeky and not actually that exciting but my sense is that the easier braille is to create the more access we as braille readers are going to have so i think any advancements in um electronic braille are just to the benefit of braille readers i gave you a little extra time there jen oh thank you i'll stop talking now um all right this next question is for debbie and kai and uh debbie will get you to go first the question is tactile graphics one limitation of traditional displays is that they don't provide access to tactile images and graphics what are some of the exciting tactile graphic devices being talked about right now and where would you like to see these devices go next um i think one of the biggest is the canoe 360. i go back to the days of the tiger embosser and it was one of the first to be able to produce tactile graphics even though it was done with with braille dots but the advantage of anything that's multi-line you need multi-line to get real good understandable tactile graphics and that's why hard copy tactile is still the way we're going today ideally i can see a device at some point in my lifetime where that may not necessarily have to be the case but that's for another question on future devices so i'll get there then but the canoe is big um there's a lot of things about tactile graphics that make it so good for people who love to read tactile maps i'm reading braille tactile is is really in a lot of ways the same in some respects as a print reader reads a map but you need to understand the concepts as well so like like in print there's good map readers and in braille there's good tactile readers um i guess the biggest thing i want to think about here is that tactile reading braille and graphics is a different skill altogether um you know you're going to use your fingers it's going to be you know the information comes through your fingers but how you navigate and how you think about the what's on the front underneath your fingers is different when you're reading a tactile graphic versus reading a page of braille over to you kai thanks yeah um i i loved all those points that you mentioned especially about learning how to read tactile graphics because a lot of people think oh you know we'll just take this image and then raise all the lines but that does not work very well because um there's a lot of clutter and um you don't really take into account the reader's personal experience that they bring into when they when they read tacticals and so when you want to look at being successful tactile graphics it's not only about good design but also about uh your experiences and uh whether you have um some training uh growing up and unfortunately what i what i see today and just talking to a lot of other people in my community is that we're not afforded those experiences learning how to read tactile graphics whether that's maps or graphs and that type of stuff and even when we do get access to tactile graphics it's only uh in one direction from the transcriber or from the production facility or from the educator we don't look at it um in terms of tactile literacy which not only includes uh being able to interpret these graphics but uh to be able to draw and to be able to create them as well and so uh something that will be interesting to see with a lot of these new tactile graphics tablets that are coming out is whether they include functionality to be able to allow you to draw tactile graphics and create diagrams and other such things and right now even though the canoe wasn't designed for uh tactile seconds you can do very simple uh drawings um and very simple floor plans with them yeah just one more piece i think the advent of 3d is going to help a lot in creating good tactile graphics and i'm looking forward to the day when we have more options available i think kai's got a point about learning to draw and i remember using a sewell raised line drawing kit back in the early 70s and it really did in my electronics classes i would get people to draw me the circuit diagrams so i was able to see what how the print reader looked at it and the only thing i couldn't do is label it in braille was you know i had almost was there but not quite so that that's a big one that's a there's a lot of good things about unfortunately for people who do tactile graphics in braille you have to conceptualize um print imagery and print information in order to interpret the text in order to interpret the tactile graphics and you know that's a separate piece altogether that you know it's a requirement if you're going to be a good tactile graphics reader i think absolutely um this next question is for natalie we've also seen lots of braille learning tools come out onto the market like braille apps what are your thoughts pros and cons on these tools generally any advice you'd give to developers working on these applications or advice for users considering these tools yeah so i mean we talk about it all the time as braille users right technology increases access to braille for people who have access to that technology there are applications that you know provide you with different activities to kind of learn braille on your own so um some people do really well with that format you know self-paced learning um so provides that option uh but not as an alternative to you know learning in other ways as well the disadvantage is that not everybody learns well on on their own in that way right and the other disadvantage is from like an equity standpoint not everybody has access to technology not everyone has you know the same level of competency or comfort with technology and there's this tendency for um for really for uh developers to um natalie you've muted oh okay sorry you start with um developers have yeah sure there's a tendency for developers to think that these tools will replace kind of access to professionals who teach braille and that's a real problem right so i think the two things can evolve at the same time you can create applications to help with real learning but you also want to advocate for access to trained professionals to teach braille for people who want to use these apps i would say see them as a kind of complementary to other ways of learning and also look at how you can use technology to kind of just reinforce your braille learning so you can use braille screen input to practice kind of the dot configurations for different symbols you can use a refreshable braille display on when you're using email or a social media platform things like that and for developers i would just say view these as complementary to formal learning don't present them as alternatives because you wouldn't be doing that for sighted children right you wouldn't be advocating for a device that replaces access to formal instruction so just be mindful of the misconceptions that you're carrying when you're promoting these tools great thank you this next question is for kim kim you're involved with the getting together with technology or gtt group where people can provide advice to each other and help troubleshoot tech issues from your experience what advice do you have for people who get frustrated and encounter tech issues when using a new device or for users who just don't know where to start with a new braille device well i think first of all take it slowly don't let your frustration overwhelm you just learn a little bit at a time so you don't expect to know how to use your braille device every feature of it you may not ever use every feature of it prioritize the features that you want to use you want to pair it with your phone or your computer or do you want to use it on its own as a standalone notetaker or stand-alone device for reading books decide what it is you want to do first prioritize those tasks and work at those tasks get help from the people who already have the device and know how to use it so so find some support within the community which is easier to do these days with with all of us around around you here um pick your device carefully too if possible uh we can't afford to have so so many devices so before getting a device maybe ask people who have them what are the pros and cons of those specific devices and so pick them carefully and then learn them slowly and if you're frustrated just put it down and go do something you love and then come back to it so that that sort of rule of thumb for all things like learning um i would say and and just know that it's gonna help you and and be good but you you can't hit the ground running you have to gradually uh take it take it one step at a time and learn it and know your learning style and the limitations and and skills so some of us i rip open a box i pull the display out i start playing with it that's what i do i know people who do not do that they read the whole manual first you know they don't feel comfortable just opening a box and pulling something out so know that know your style and uh and have fun and know that just just have fun and keep an open mind that's what i would say excellent thank you this next question is for kai kai as a student how do you think braille technology helps you most and what about with stem subjects yeah so um i guess before i really dive into that i i do want to say that in order to be successful in whatever you want to do in life it's important to look at braille as one of the tools it's not the only tool of course like many of my other panelists i use speech as well and so part of the process for me as a as a student and uh in figuring out how uh to use the tools that i do um is to figure out their strengths weaknesses and uh and then figure out um the best way to apply it for me and so when it comes to braille for me i find that reading more technical material with a lot of medical terms that that's easier to process in braille but for general communication and looking at uh documents and stuff like that i might look at look at it with a speech and and then if i'm writing something i might review it in braille and figure out make sure that you know i don't have any spelling mistakes and formatting errors that type of stuff but especially in stem the a big piece in kinesiology is looking at anatomy and dealing with tons and tons of diagrams and so being able to have some skill in reading tactile graphics is essential and being able to uh communicate in that way whether uh you're talking about a diagram or a graph um being able to communicate with someone using those images uh is i think another really important skill to have um seconds so i i guess to conclude um braille is definitely essential i find in how i study um and i think i would not do as well as i do academically without braille thank you this next question is for everyone and it is we also see a lot of gadgets that never take hold why do you think that is and if you could say anything to developers what would you say uh debbie since you went last before let's start with you debbie you're a mute that's what happens when you play around with it um i think one of the things about it about gadgets in general that don't take off is that there in order to make a good gadget it needs to have people at the table that that understand its intent but understand what do you need to do and what do you use so uh bringing in people that are users of the technology is useful um you know sometimes it could be as simple as just the layout of the gadget itself just if things are are not placed in a good location for for hands you know things like this so i think one of the problems with with gadgets and and in the beginning many people have great ideas about this would really work well uh for blind people or low vision individuals and in in some cases it does it but it may already be invented um the other piece to it is that gadgets by their nature um you know it's kind of goes back to what kim mentioned about gtt understand the purpose what's it for what are you going to do with it um sometimes people just get a great idea and say let's make this but then where does it go from there so these are things that happen when you have gadgets and it's quite understandable that that there are things that don't take off a lot of them and they go in phases you know some for a while it was orientation and mobility aids that were there was new ones coming out all the time and um in the braille world for the most part in braille um you know they've been they've been pretty good in seconds there's been a there's been a few but other than that it's it's been pretty good so i think that's about it for me thanks man thank you um kai yeah i i think there's definitely several factors that play uh into this um but one of the big ones that i see is just um they as debbie said they have really good um well they have a lot of interest and really want to help but sometimes those ideas might not work out well because maybe it's something that we're already able to do and some using some alternative techniques and strategies uh or maybe uh the way it works is very cumbersome it's too expensive uh and so unfortunately some of these developers they don't take these factors into consideration um but i think the other uh aspect of it that i've seen too is that um they uh they might have a really great idea and the prototype works out really well but they're just not able to get the funding um and they kind of underestimate how much money it takes to bring some of these products to market so um yeah it's definitely a challenge but in terms of uh just braille devices i think for the most part haven't seen anything uh particularly outrageous thank you um before we go on i just want to like say so that debbie and kai are beating around the bush here i think you guys were alluding to um developers not consulting the blind and low vision community would that be correct correct um yeah would you like to go next well i agree with what kai and and debbie said i think consulting the community is vital and it has to be done all along the way and also doing research even before consulting the community is there something already out there that you could you could find um i think in terms of braille devices i've seen some a bit horrible ones that one of the things beyond the design like debbie said where your hands are placed where the braille is where the panning buttons are or buttons to move the braille forward have to be located where braille readers where it makes sense for braille readers to to use them but one thing i saw once was a device that wasn't protected from the elements and and so i said well what about and it was a it was a watch what about if i went outside with it what about if i banged my hand on the wall when i was using a cane or a guide dog what about if you know i'm using it in the elements i'm not driving a car i'm outside you know i'm what about if um you know i'm needing to use it on a bus like is it going to be dust resistant you know so also think about the lifestyles of the people and where they would use it and how and i really agree with debbie too is where are you what's it for like what is the use for and is this use that's necessary um i think i would also tell them know that we're a small market so um it's too bad that we are but we are a small market so maybe try to get big companies on board like apple microsoft google you know that have money amazon you know to help you put it in their product as well excellent thank you um jen so um i agree with what everyone else has said so far and mine is a little bit connected but i'm i'm calling it the jota dot issue and i don't know if any of you have heard of the java dot or ever have seen one or used one but i i think maybe i saw one once but i never owned one but i thought it was this really cool device because it was like a very small um sort of like a really really portable perkins brailler in the sense that you could use six keys to create your braille and then it would the paper could would come rolling out you could only use small paper like it was you could even hang it around your neck they said um it came with a strap and so the reason i'm using this as an example is that i actually thought this was a really cool idea it's portable you could produce braille and you could use the perkins brailler style if you weren't as comfortable with the slate and stylus and you could read the braille as you did it but it had this one overarching flaw in my mind and that is that it would cost like 500 and so um i guess that's sort of where i'm going is that there's these great gadgets that have been devised or developed but then they have this one overarching flaw and it might be the cost it might be something like you know what kim was mentioning with the braille not being you know being totally exposed to the elements and so i think that is the reason why a lot of the gadgets haven't survived is that they're great but they have this one problem about them that overrides all of the benefits that they have and so i think that's what i would say to developers is to sort of think big picture and and don't just think about oh this is such a great device look what it does think about is it practical is it affordable is it like and think about all these big picture items so i i just i don't know i just thought that is sort of for me the jada dot kind of represents this whole idea of like these great gadgets that just you know they're on the market for a bit and then they just kind of go away so that's what i have to say oh thank you uh natalie yes so i agree with everything that everyone has said so far um you know like developers are people and people have misconceptions sometimes about things and the problem is that when you have those misconceptions then you're basing your questions about what you're developing on solutions for problems that don't necessarily exist so you see there's a lot in mobility other people talked about this like wearable devices that will vibrate anytime you're about to encounter an obstacle which is not very practical because it would be vibrating all the time in the in the area of braille i you know it's not necessarily technology but i i've had a lot of people approach me about you know developing alternative codes to braille and that's based on the idea that braille is too difficult and braille users don't want an alternative to braille we had raised line tactile systems before braille and it didn't work and that's why louis braille developed his code and so it just goes back to including people who are blind with visual impairments from the start and that doesn't just mean in user testing by the way that also means recognizing that there are a lot of blind people who are developers and researchers and experts too so including them on your team not making assumptions about what we need or reinventing the wheel and also thinking about like jen said the practicality of what happens once that device is um available how do you get support when it stops working so working with other developers i think on more mainstream options is really important but also not just including us as experts from the start but please compensate people with uh all disabilities for the expertise that they provide that we provide please recognize that and and compensate them for for what they're doing thank you all right so our uh next question is for everybody so you have a crystal ball you can invent any braille technology you want the sky is the limit what would you love to have your hands on in the future and where do you think there are still gaps jen we'll start with you you're okay am i unneeded now yes thank you um so yeah i would we've talked about some of the things already people have mentioned like tactile ipad screens and and braille tablets and things like that i also think one of the challenges we have is that we have sort of one extreme or the other right we have you can go all out and spend top prices on something with a whole pile of features or you can get something that's fairly inexpensive but it doesn't have a lot of features so i would like to see something in between um i would also like you know where there's features but it's not the most expensive device on the market i would like um i mean we talk about consulting the community which obviously is really important but it's just in in my crystal ball and my divi you know what i would want as a device i just want to remind people that you know what jen golden wants isn't necessarily what kim kilpatrick or natalie martinello wants like we we do have you know we're not all one and the same even though we do agree on lots of things but one thing that i would love if i could invent anything i want is a braille display where the dots never fade and where i can like take it in the bathtub if i want to i can sit on the beach if i want to braille displays right now are so fragile because you can't get anything into the holes where the pins come up and that's one of the biggest challenges at least for me i'm forever you know i can't wear hand cream ever i can't you know i know that sounds dumb but in the winter when your hands are dry right because i'm always reading a display so i would like a display where nothing could get into the holes and you could bake your cookies with your recipe on your braille display on your kitchen table and not worry about you know keeping it and span 100 clean so there's my shallow braille request thank you kai yeah i think uh for me um because i just love tactile graphics and just designing drawing creating stuff um i'd love to see a tactile display that can do more than just um line drawings and shading and that type of stuff but really can go um 3d where you can you know sculpt things and then have it reflected uh on the screen and in a cad file and then be able to um create your braille labels for them uh or audio labels and be able to use your fingers to physically move those labels to the different parts of your model i think that'd be so cool and i don't think it's impossible to do but it would definitely be a long way off before we see something like that thank you um debbie um i'm going to carry on with some of kai's and some of jen's pieces um my device is it's it's you can either do it as a software solution or a hardware solution my software solution is about the size of an eight and a half by 11 flexible sheet of paper um and you could hold it supposing that you are in a situation where there's print in front of you and you want to know what it is you could be you know in a doctor's office you could be standing at a streetcar stop or somewhere and you want to know what it says and you would hold this flexible thing in front of you and it would use haptics or virtual reality or augmented reality so that what came in print on that sign or whatever you were looking at you can feel that in braille under your finger so you can read instantly by holding up this device to what is in front of you in a print text or even a tactile graphic in car's example and then i like car's idea about moving the pieces around and creating the labels because then you could someone could keep showing you something and it could be a device that you just bought and you just want to have a look at it and label it like you do in a print manual so you could make your own labels right there um or you could import them they might even be already created you could take it from the print manual which is online and create the create the labels and place them where they go on on the 3d diagram that you've just created by holding up this device um the other way to do it it could be a have a separate braille tablet but again that's going to be a lot well both of them aren't cheap um but either way when you're when you're finished with you just fold up your flexible sheet of paper put it back in your pocket and then you're uh you're off to the next adventure great him wow i'm just picturing this plain piece of paper eight now 511. um i agree with jen durable durable in any circ any location and any under any conditions i would love to see a device that's created by mainstream companies and so available in mainstream stores and also available to repair in mainstream stores i would say a multi-line display maybe like a tablet that you could connect to whatever device with the camera that you could you know take pictures of text to scan it all included in in a nice package that isn't that expensive but i think available um easily so that you could you could return it replace it get it fixed and have it back you know soon after i would love to see that um i i would love to see them all over the place just available you know in public places or wherever they hand it to you to read a menu or to do something like all over the place in museums that it's like a braille tablet instead of just just an audio thing i would love that that they become so ubiquitous that the the price of them comes down um that would be to add to what kai i mean i loved what kai and debbie said about graphics and and and haptic braille and all this which is really cool idea to um i just just uh yeah guys the limit really well thank you and natalie yeah i mean all of these ideas sound super exciting um i agree with what everyone has already said my my ideas are actually really similar to what debbie mentioned i just think about portability and instant access to braille so i want a braille display you can fold up and put in your pocket i want a device that you can literally just put a piece of paper on it or scan in front of you know any kind of printed text and it'll instantly provide that information in braille i mean we already have really good apps like seeing ai that do that kind of ocr so you know some kind of portable all-in-one braille device that could do that would be really really helpful and and good to have the other thing is what kim mentioned i'd love to see braille access become mainstream in the same way that text-to-speech is so something like voice-over that's already on all apple devices i'd love to see mainstream devices that incorporated braille somehow that just like magically popped up onto the screen if you wanted it and that way anyone who has access to that tablet can can use braille so maybe thinking about like how do you provide greater mainstream access to braille on products as well sorry if i just have one more piece but natalie and lady think of it but you want to be able to share these explorations as well so supposing natalie looked at something or kai looked at something and then we wanted to share it and save it in an archive that's everybody else could have access to that stuff so as people as people use these devices they could just be stored as images or as text and you know don't worry about finding it it's already been it's here that there will be a tremendous wealth of information and archive for people to access as these things kept going and when you see the advancements about the iphone and what it can do to describe images and you can even explore images now i think we're closer than we think but we're not quite there checking again with us in five years yep absolutely this next question is for everybody as well how would you describe the role braille technology plays in your life as a braille user how do you decide when to use a device and when you prefer hard copy braille uh let's start with natalie yeah i mean um again we've talked about this today that just technology provides more access to braille if you have access to that technology it's still you know really expensive for some people not everyone's able to afford it but i use braille every day because i am fortunate enough to have access to several braille displays so now i can get a book on the day it's released and read it like everyone else assuming that book that ebook is in an accessible format so that's a huge game changer um at the same time you know i still prefer hard copy braille for a bunch of other tasks that i need to do like giving presentations i will emboss my presentation notes and hard copy braille so that i can kind of have easier access to a full page i still need paper braille when i want to read graphs or figures but i think it's like what debbie mentioned i think we're headed in the right direction all of these things we're starting to see these things evolve and so i think as long as we keep kind of pushing for more affordable solutions as we're developing these multi-line devices that technology will continue to bring braille to more and more people thank you kim so thanks thank you ryan um i think i went for quite a long time well i started off life is always having braille let's go for the blind and then i went for quite a long time where i was not i didn't have braille at all i only had audio and i just had braille when i made notes on the perkins or the slate when i got to the place where and i had braille again i had a braille display again i really swore i would never be without one because my braille consumption went up hundreds and hundreds of percent and i use braille every day all the time i use it to host zoom calls i use it to create my scripts for storytelling i use it to in meetings i use it to take notes i use it all the time i just there's i have a braille display connected to my phone right now for this call i just use it all the time i don't have the luxury of an embosser so i don't use hardcopy braille i think i would if i had an embosser i would do what natalie kind of said is print out agendas or print out presentation notes in case my braille display went faulty or my the phone unpaired with the display which has you know has happened so i i i would love to see the financial ability for me to have everything like to have an embosser plus a braille display you know plus um or have easy access to an embosser you know and when i need it maybe in through a library or other other places as well if i need that but if i had a choice when i have a choice which you know um under some funding i i could have either or i would always get a braille display um just because that's more practically useful for me thank you um again well when you ask uh what braille technology means in my life or what braille means in my life the word oxygen comes to mind i have always been an avid reader and i'm not auditory so um speech isn't really a good alternative for me i do sometimes use it when when i have to but um i'm and i guess i and this is not a comment on the validity of this question it's a great question but um i just want to say like for those of you among the participants who are sighted imagine if somebody asked you what print means to you and then you'll have kind of an idea of what braille means to me and i think what braille means to everybody on this panel based on what everyone has said um like natalie i am fortunate enough to have access to more than one display and i use it you know when i'm working and i use displays a lot because i like to always i never want to be out somewhere and have a few minutes to spare and not be able to read a book so with braille displays and my iphone or whatever i have i i always have access to lots of reading material i would say 95 of the time i am using a display just because that's the easiest way to have access but um i do like hard copy for certain tasks and natalie mentioned some of them so kind of depends on the document type and on the purpose that i'm you know why i'm reading the documents another thing too is if i'm going somewhere where i'm concerned that um a braille display might get damaged uh going back to my beach example um that's not the only thing but you know there are times where i just feel like it's probably a better idea to have hard copy braille um but it's really difficult because i think there's a lot of you know we can go on all day about what braille how we use it but ultimately braille for me is a means to an end it's a way that i access information independently thank you debbie i'm i'm probably about 80 20 uh electronic braille versus 20 hard copy and my 80 percent is it's pretty well subdivided as basically if i i need to learn something um basically so what happens is if i have to make a presentation or i'm actively engaging with the audience then i really would prefer braille under my fingers um in in a hard copy if i'm giving a presentation because you can skim the page you can shuffle the cards you can shuffle the deck doing it on a braille display you know it might take a second or two to get to your next slide or to you know it's the it's the mechanics of using a braille display for a presentation that that aren't quite as efficient as my skimming the page are having said that full disclosure i'm a real format hound so i really rely on format of a hard copy sheet or braille to let me know information just as a print reader does um they skim the page and say okay this is important but this is not this is bolded this is not so i use a lot of the overview techniques that a print reader uses with hard copy when i'm using a braille display the one of the biggest things about it is reading current events reading current news i want to know how people's names are spelled um how sports teams players are spelled uh you know things because it's not always what you think and um you know you might hear something on the radio and you know how it's pronounced you can say it perfectly but you have no idea how it's written so that's where using braille for current events and for reading stuff on the internet that's where it really is useful thank you excellent thank you and kai yeah so um i want to say first that i'm very fortunate to be able to have multiple uh braille devices i have a braille display um i have uh the canute i have a braille embosser and so you know you might wonder what the heck are you gonna use all these devices for but um i i find personally that there are situations where i do want hard copy and as others have said giving presentations speeches sure you know you can read um your speech on a braille display but then you know you're having to constantly uh click the next button and it sometimes feels like an endless scroll uh but with braille you know you've gotten to the bottom of the page you can find paragraphs really easily you don't have to worry about your technology breaking down so things like that make giving presentations um really useful and of course um the embossing i have is the viewplus columbia which can do tactile graphics um and one of its biggest features of course as a tiger embosser is that it does multi-dot height and that's uh that to me is especially useful um for more complex diagrams and stuff like that where um if you have all different types of lines overlapping on top of each other at the same height it's very hard to follow but when you have it using different dot heights or even just different types of lines it makes it a lot more easy to interpret and understand um and in terms of the canoe i i find that i use it a lot to read novels because it's just seconds really easy to load a book on there and get a good spatial representation and uh you know i i won't use it for work because it's too loud so that's kind of one of its downsides so uh in that sense um i've kind of figured out uh what works best for me in terms of all these tools thank you and we have one last question before we move uh on to open questions and answers from from all all that attended today um so this this is for everybody having a stable device that meets users needs is one thing but there are lots of other factors that could impact your success with different technologies what makes a good tactile image what about any other skills you need to read a tactile graphic effectively any tips for braille users who struggle with reading tactile images um i will start with you sure so um in terms of strategies for reading i think um starting with something really simple uh learning to follow lines and looking at shapes and understanding how using different shapes can create different objects uh you know and animals and and that type of thing you know can really help um start develop just to develop some of those uh concepts um and then as you progress uh then you can start working on more complex graphics and look at how how to kind of read the different types of graphics so for example the way i read a graph would be very different than looking at a cartoon for example uh and you know one of those strategies is understanding okay you know with a graph you have uh x-axis y-axis you have labels so um you know taking it systematically looking at the labels and understanding okay because of the way this is configured then this is what it means when this line goes up and this one goes down and then of course with cartoons you want to look at labels but there might be different textures that you have to deal with and then figuring out how to do that systematically as well exploring the image systematically and looking at the legend if there is one um and yeah i'd just say to um start with something simple work work up to it and uh have fun with it because uh there's this misperception that people think that it's uh all these tactile graphics are only for education but they could really be used for um leisure whether you're looking at cartoons or uh you know just covet data which uh of course is um really helpful these days to understand what's going on uh and so yeah um just i think uh tactile graphics are a wonderful thing and i hope you take a chance and uh and give it a try thank you natalie yeah i think i echo everything that was said that was all really good advice i think um if you're new to tactile graphics just start with simpler graphics i always like to look at the legend first if there is one because that kind of helps you make sense of what different symbols mean or what you'll find in that graphic i also kind of think of it a lot like when you're exploring a new like physical environment you know you want to get a global picture of what's uh in the room or in this case on the page so using kind of like just those strategies to explore the full page and then looking at you know different details in that image can really help but also just remember you know it also depends on the quality of the tactile graphic if there's too much detail like we talked about before it might make it more difficult and so that comes back to just you know ensuring that we have a good access to tactile graphics and also recognizing that everybody comes with different experiences right if you were born without any vision there might for some people not everyone but there might be certain concepts uh that you might not be as familiar with what certain things look like whereas if you've had some vision before that might not be the case it really depends on the person and so just kind of do what works best for you and and you'll develop those strategies that um that will be the best for you thank you jen um yeah i guess i would say as with all kinds of learning practice is really important and practice especially um on subjects that interest you i've always loved astronomy and so a few years ago i purchased a book called touch the stars produced by national braille press and it's fascinating plus it gives me a chance to have access to tactile graphics and so i would just s

2022-01-15 12:23

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