Unicode does have a Braille block, but other than creating ordinary text documents with Braille, I am not entirely sure how the main Braille audience accesses the script (other than it’s probably not a printout from a laser printer).

However one the accessibility lists I subscribe to mentioned this video of a refreshable Braille display. Basically a Braille user has a device which has 32 blocks (or cells) of pins. When connected to a computer, it reads 32 characters at a time raises the appropriate combination of pins for each character. When the reader has processed each line he or she can press a button to continue. As the demo shows, an experienced Braille reader can read quite quickly.

They didn’t happen to mention Unicode, but I did notice that his display has 8 pins per cell, not just the 6 needed for English only. In theory, the display can handle characters from the entire Unicode block. However, it would be interesting to know how the conversion happens and how Braille from beyond English is handled…but that may be a future blog post.

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