Refreshable Braille Display

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Technology is advancing by leaps and bounds every single minute. But we are still somehow lagging in finding ways to benefit everyone by being able to use it. These are so few arrangements and innovations out in the market which will make the user experience for disabled people equally enjoyable as for someone more fortunate. Thankfully there are a few technologies that do show substantial effort in solving this issue. One such technology is the Braille terminal.

An electromechanical device called Refreshable Braille Display or Braille terminal is used to display braille characters with the help of round-tipped pins raised through holes in a flat surface. It is commonly used in conjunction with a speech synthesizer by visually impaired and deaf-blind users to enable them to read what is on the screen with ease. 

It can be connected to a computer, an iPad, or a laptop. Models are based on the number of cells. The most common numbers are 32,40 and 80 which determines the length of the display. It can also be used to input text using an efficient Braille keyboard. Input is performed by two sets of four keys on each side. The output is via refreshable braille display consisting of a row of electromechanical cells each of which can raise or lower a combination of aground tip pins. Other methods might involve performing input by using a conventional keyboard and receiving output via the specialized keyboard. The mechanism which raises the dots uses the piezo effect of some crystals, whereby they expand when a voltage is applied to them. This crystal is connected to a lever, which in turn raises the dot. There has to be a crystal for each dot of the display. 

The advantage of braille displays over synthetic speech is that it provides access to information directly and allows the user to check the format including spacing and spellings. The best part is that it makes no sound.

A refreshable braille display might typically cost around 11,26,057.65 INR to 15,01,410.20 INR which is pretty expensive. One of the underlying reasons is that these machines are imported which increases the price by a thousand folds. Tech firms should really take an initiative to manufacture such indispensable technology in the country itself so as to make it available to a greater mass of people who are in need of it. After all, India is a land of several young innovators with brilliant minds and hence should not prove to be so much of a great challenge but step that should surely be taken .

TacRead developed by IIT Delhi’s students and researchers, is a refreshable braille display (RBD) manufactured for people with visual impairment to read the digital text through a tactile interface. Extensive trials have been carried out in several Indian cities like Trivandrum, Dehradun, and Chennai and have received positive responses. This might just be the first step towards providing a quality product meant utilization of technology by the disabled at affordable prices. 


The refreshable braille display has been around for several years now but still, it is just as expensive. One of the probable reasons is that we have failed to produce better and cheaper alternatives. The user experience design for the disabled can be improved by leaps and bounds if enough companies express concern about it. UX and product design are deeply integrated and can work together to make lives better for everyone.

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