Re: Braille Displays and Multiple Languages/Character Sets

Jason White

To clarify, I was referring to braille displays used in combination with a screen reader, not to the internal functions (e.g., editing or note taking capabilities) that some of them offer. If you also need those functions to be effective in a multilingual setting, then you need to be sure that the software running on the device itself supports both (or all) of the required languages. This includes translation and back translation features.

On the other hand, if you're just using the display in combination with a screen reader, then all of the language-specific functionality resides in the screen reader itself. The braille display simply forwards braille input and accepts data representing dot combinations from the host computer.

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf Of Gudrun Brunot
Sent: Friday, January 5, 2018 9:02 PM
Subject: Re: Braille Displays and Multiple Languages/Character Sets

Hi Jason: Actually, I don't totally agree. Sure, you can type on your braille device whatever symbols you want and, as long as you're reading in context, you can read them the same way you could if they were on a piece of paper. But if you need them to also be correct in a print situation, it gets hairy. The Braillenote family is not particularly supple when it comes to braille foreign characters. I have asked HumanWare if it couldn't be possible to have a custom determined keyboard, so you could type dots 1-6, for example, and decide whether you want to hear "a circle," or the corresponding phoneme, (a sound similar to the Italian O), or "a circumflex" or "au" which would make sense for German abridged braille.

You're right in as much as you can type a symbol and set language in Braillenote, but only the main ones. What I mean is: Braillenote allows you only to be language-specific (if you select one of the four big ones). But if you want it to be character-specific, you'd have more trouble. I actually managed to set my Braillenote PK so I could load a file in Swedish and read it (no speech) with the correct Swedish braille symbols for the diacritic marks to pop up as I read. It was hard, though, and Humanware reps weren't quite sure how to advise about it. Now, I never will dare to change anything in my Braillenote PK settings, for it was so entangled to get the Swedish characters to show. On a desktop PC, you can set the keyboard layout under settings, keyboard, International (I think) and decide whether you want English and Swedish keyboards as active alternatives, or several keyboards. Chances are that if you grew up in France, you'll know the French keyboard layout, for example, so being able to switch between English and French is a real help. For me, if I need to type French, I use the alt and the ASCII combinations--this is faster, since I did not grow up using the French typing keyboard. Sure, Eloquence may still speak whatever you are reading with English speech rules for your desktop work, but you can live with that for certain situations quite fine as long as you can read the right braille symbol under your fingers and be sure you have the correct symbol in your document, especially if you're going to share it with a visually equipped person

I have done some quiet research on this subject, but not been able to find really clear indications about it.


-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf Of Jason White via Groups.Io
Sent: Friday, January 05, 2018 3:59 PM
Subject: Re: Braille Displays and Multiple Languages/Character Sets

All commercially available braille displays that I’m aware of can present text in any language supported by the screen reader. The braille display doesn’t handle the different braille codes; the screen reader does so, then sends a dot pattern to the display. Likewise, the input keys on the braille display are read, and interpreted, by the screen reader itself. The braille display is language-independent in so far as its interactions with the screen reader are concerned.

Thus, choosing a braille display is independent of which languages are to be used.

Assuming that the user in question plans to use JAWS (and you’re asking on a JAWS list, after all), then the next question is whether JAWS offers translation tables for the desired languages. To find out, look in the translation table settings.

If different character sets are to be used, it may be necessary to switch between two different translation tables. JAWS appears to support this; on the Focus 40 Blue display that I’m using here, it’s assigned to dots 2-3-4-5-7 chord. I haven’t experimented with the feature, however.

As to keyboard layout, you can configure this in the operating system, so you shouldn’t need to obtain a new or different physical keyboard, unless there’s a specific reason for preferring a physical keyboard that has slightly different keys on it (for a different language/country).

From: [] On Behalf Of Brian Vogel
Sent: Friday, January 5, 2018 6:15 PM
Subject: Braille Displays and Multiple Languages/Character Sets

This message may be considered off-topic, but there is really nowhere in particular where I can try to engage those who’ve “been there, done that” (or may be there doing that) with this topic. If the moderator believes this should not be further discussed on the group, then please post with that request. I am happy to receive input either on the group or via private message or e-mail.

I may soon be taking on some contract work where one of the questions is what braille display would be best suited for use with foreign (non-English) characters both from an input and output perspective. Since I am sighted and monolingual this particular need is something that’s entirely in the abstract for me. This is definitely a time where input from those who have already encountered this need and tried things out would be invaluable.

I would also be curious as to whether those who are dealing with multiple languages where non-English-language character sets are being used have found it useful to use a language-specific keyboard. It certainly makes text entry easier but only if you are able to familiarize yourself with the layout on said keyboard and get as comfortable with it as the keyboard you typically use. I know that these are available as replacements on laptops so I’d have to presume that the external USB keyboard equivalent is available as well.

Also, if you as a multi-language computer user are willing to be a part of an “e-mail circle” about this please let me know. This is a time where more input, and possibly conflicting input, is a very good thing provided you can describe how you’ve arrived at your conclusions. It would be great to be the proverbial "fly on the wall" while those with long experience with this need discuss their experiences with each other. This may or may not happen, but I thought I'd ask.

Brian - Windows 10 Home, 64-Bit, Version 1709, Build 16299 (dot level on request - it changes too often to keep in signature)

If you don't like someone, the way he holds his spoon will make you furious; if you do like him, he can turn his plate over into your lap and you won't mind. ~ Irving Becker

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