Braille, Technology and Literacy! VIP Interview with Stuart Lawler

Did you know that the Oxford Pocket dictionary is 22 volumes in Braille?

So how and why did a predominantly paper based form of communications innovate over the years?
As many of you know this VIP only knows a teeny tiny bit of Braille but luckily we could call upon one of our favourite trail blazers Stuart Lawler to chat all things Braille!
Here’s what we learned from Stuart.


What is Braille?


Braille is a sequence of 6 or 8 dots used to represent letters. There are also symbols and shorthand in Braille!


For a brief period of time why did people think Braille was dead and what impact did this have on the community?


When audio burst onto the scene alongside personal computing and technology becoming more affordable; Braille was viewed as dated by manufacturers and audio disks were the preferred production medium. Unfortunately the absence of a written form of communication led to huge illiteracy levels across the sight loss community over a particular time period!


Don’t fret though because we found out how Braille bounced back stronger then ever, when we asked Stuart about the positive impacts of technology on Braille!

Technology has made Braille more compact and affordable.
I think I speak for everyone when I say I’m not going to miss lugging around the Perkins.

Picture of a Perkins Braille machine

In the next year alone Stuart is expecting a significant reduction in the price of Braille displays from 1000 euro to 600. Our resident expert also predicts that Braille displays will eventually be consumed in a similar fashion to smartphones, in that we will purchase and use them for a particular time frame and move on to the next generation device!


How does refreshable Braille work?


It’s series of pins that rise and fall to make up the symbols or dot sequences used in Braille!

Picture of a Braille display


What are the perks of refrettable Braille?



The devices are portable and every geeks dream!

They can connect to other devices and apps!
The flexibility is out of thise world, giving both tactile and audio options!
And the most impressive of all for me was learning that with all of the above combined it means you can access everything in real-time! For example if you’re using your kindle app you can download it onto your Braille device as soon as it’s released!


And finally! Why is Braille important?


Put simply by our wonderful expert Stuart, we need to create more literate and employment ready people and Braille can and will do this! All we have to do is promote it and put Braille in the hands of as many people as possible!

Click here to watch and or listen to the full interview!

That’s everything for now, we will be touching base with Stuart again in the next few weeks as there are some really exciting innovations happening with Braille and thankfully Stuart has agreed to share them with all of us lucky VIPs
If you’ve any questions or comments please leave them below or on social!

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