TORONTO: The new Orbit braille reader was launched last night at the Annual International Technology & Persons with Disabilities Conference in San Diego, California.
The Orbit braille reader is the first ever affordable refreshable braille reader that is portable. Until now, braille displays cost on average around $3,000, putting them out of reach for many people – not just in Canada, but around the world. In contrast, the new Orbit braille reader will retail for under $400, providing an important new option for people who are blind or or have low vision to access literacy at an affordable cost.
“Solving the global issue of affordable refreshable braille devices is not something any one organization can do, and we were thrilled to be part of the consortium that took on the challenge of making braille technology widely available,” says John Rafferty, President and CEO of CNIB. “It means that a braille reader can now be right in the homes of many children and youth who are learning to read, and it also provides previously lacking access to braille in many developing countries.”
CNIB is one of ten organizations worldwide who were involved in creating the new technology, along with the RNIB (Royal National Institute for the Blind) in England, NFB (National Federation of the Blind) in the United States, American Printing House for the Blind, New Zealand’s Blind Foundation, Perkins, the Norwegian Association of the Blind and Partially Sighted, Association Valentin HauY (AVH), Sightsavers, and Vision Australia. CNIB provided research and development funding, expertise and testing.
A refreshable braille display is a device that allows a person who is blind or partially sighted to read the contents of a display, like a computer, a text line at a time as a line of braille characters.
In addition to CNIB contributing financially, Diane Bergeron, Executive Director, Strategic Relations and Engagement, CNIB, was a member of the product development committee which provided input on design and testing in Canada. “Reading is one of the daily human activities affected most profoundly by vision loss, and it’s absolutely critical to the success of a person who is blind or partially sighted living in a sighted world,” said Bergeron. “Early childhood literacy can have an impact on a person’s commitment to education, ability to work and level of personal satisfaction in life.”Braille continues to be an important tool for people who are blind or partially sighted, despite advances in technology. Reading braille helps teach basic literacy skills like spelling, grammar, sentence structure and comprehension in a way that audio cannot help with. Simply hearing the words “there” and “their” won’t teach you how “they’re” spelled.
The Orbit braille reader works over Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and can read files stored on an SD card inserted in the reader. The Orbit braille reader can read translated, formatted braille (BRF) files, translated, unformatted brailled (BRL) files, portable embosser format (PEF) files and text (TXT) files.
CNIB is the exclusive supplier of the Orbit braille reader in Canada, which will be available in the fall from Shop CNIB at www.shop.cnib.ca.