Possible Future for Braille eReaders

In regards to the lawsuit against Arizona State University, over the Kindle DX‘s inaccessibility for blind people, a quick search for braille eReaders brought up this prototype design.

Unfortunately, no such device is yet in production, but the basic technology already exists.  Braille displays for blind computer users have been around for decades, and it’s only the prohibitive cost that has kept an eReader like this from being developed.  As research continues, it can be expected that something like this prototype will one day exist.

A braille device that fell under the Kindle brand, or at the very least had support for the Kindle Store, would solve any problems surrounding the current suit against ASU.  But even more important would be the larger effect a braille eReader would have.  Unlike the purchase of a normal eReader, which essentially comes down to a consumer’s personal preference, a braille eReader would have near universal acceptance in the blind community.  With braille, a refreshable eReader with a limitless digital library would have clear benefits over the limited supply of bulky paper braille books.  If such a device could be developed at a reasonable price, the maker would  not only stand to help the disable but also to make a huge profit.

2 thoughts on “Possible Future for Braille eReaders

  1. Just one “minor” problem with this solution to the Kindle issue… Only ten percent of the nation’s blind kids are taught to read and write Braille — down from fifty percent in the sixties. Less than that number of blind adults read it. This is a major problem with regard to employability. Over seventy percent of blind Americans of working age are unemployed. Of the thirty percent who do work, however, over eighty percent read Braille. Congress recognized the problem when they authorized the minting of the Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar, the proceeds of which support the Braille Readers are Leaders campaign of the National Federation of the Blind:

    Even NASA, which has a long standing relationship with the NFB in developing new ways of teaching science to blind kids, tried to help when they launched two of these coins into space onboard Atlantis in May on its last mission to repair the Hubble telescope. Did you hear anything in the mainstream media about it?

    For the reasons behind the Braille literacy crisis, I humbly refer you to my series of articles for American Chronicle.

    The important thing now for college students is getting access to Kindle’s text-to-speech. NFB begged Amazon to extend text to speech to functionality, but they haven’t. They also begged ASU to use their influence with Amazon to get them to do it. They could have simply said they couldn’t go forward with the pilot project until Amazon made Kindle accessible, because it would be in violation of the ADA. Again, they didn’t.

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