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The NIST Rotating Braille Reader for Electronic Books



John W. Roberts, V R. McCrary


¿¿¿We have developed a new technology to reduce the cost of Braille-based information accessibility. Millions of blind and visually impaired people in the US (and far higher numbers worldwide) need some form of non-visual access to information. The widespread use of Braille displays has been limited primarily by cost and reliability issues. The primary cost and reliability factor is the large number of electromechanical actuators. Each 6/8-dot Braille cell requires 6/8 actuators, with hundreds needed for the entire display. Small displays (e.g. 8-character) are available, but require the user to move a finger back and forth, raising issues of convenience and repetitive stress injuries. Our approach uses as few as 3 to 4 actuators for the entire display. Our objective in undertaking this project was to find a new approach to Braille display design that would significantly lower cost and improve reliability, and still provide a worthwhile reading experience approaching that of full-line (80-character) displays. Our target was a factor of ten reduction in display cost. After successful completion and demonstration of a 2nd-generation working prototype, we have been working to extend the Braille reader technology to graphics, enabling the first practical refreshable tactile graphic displays.
Federal Inf. Process. Stds. (NIST FIPS) - in
Report Number


accessibility, Braille, tactile display, tactile graphics


Roberts, J. and McCrary, V. (2008), The NIST Rotating Braille Reader for Electronic Books, Federal Inf. Process. Stds. (NIST FIPS), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD (Accessed July 21, 2024)


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Created October 16, 2008