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Rotating-Wheel Braille Display for Continuous Refreshable Braille



John W. Roberts, Oliver T. Slattery, D W. Kardos


The increasingly pervasive influence of information technology on daily life makes accessibility a higher priority than ever before. Millions of blind and visually impaired people in the US (and far higher numbers worldwide) need some form of non-visual access to information. Non-visual displays differ from visual displays, but some features and issues are strikingly similar to those of visual displays. Significant progress has been made with text-to-speech systems, but many users prefer the precision and the reading experience of touch-based Braille systems.The widespread use of Braille displays has been limited primarily by cost and reliability issues. The cost to the user of a conventional 80-character Braille display is often $10000-15000 US, and maintenance costs can be around $500 per year. The primary cost and reliability factor is the large number of electromechanical actuators. Each 6- or 8-dot Braille cell requires six or eight actuators, with hundreds needed for the entire display. Smaller 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 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.
Journal of the Society for Information Display


accessibility, Braille, tactile display


Roberts, J. , Slattery, O. and Kardos, D. (2000), Rotating-Wheel Braille Display for Continuous Refreshable Braille, Journal of the Society for Information Display, [online], (Accessed April 20, 2024)
Created May 1, 2000, Updated February 17, 2017