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Converting Digital Information into Braille


Guest researcher Oliver Slattery from the University of Limerick (right) and Victor McCrary, Chief, Convergent Information Systems discuss a new NIST Braille reader. The reader transforms digital data into Braille characters. The system was created as part of a NIST project to make electronic books more accessible to the blind. The reader uses a compact combination of disks, rods, and small motors to produce the 64 different combinations of raised Braille characters.

Previous digital to Braille converters have been substantially larger and more expensive. A Braille system offers greater precision than a speech system for translating digital information, and skilled Braille readers may be able to process the information faster than by listening to it. In addition, the converter can make electronic books and other digital formats like the World Wide Web accessible to those who are both blind and deaf. NIST has received a provisional patent for the device and hopes to work with a manufacturer to have it produced commercially.

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NIST Braille Display Project
Information Storage and Integrated Systems Group
Convergent Information Systems
Information Technology Laboratory

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