Braille Equipment

Free Equipment from the Braillists Foundation

We believe every blind person has the right to the tools they need to read and write braille, so we’re excited to be able to offer you some free braille reading, writing and learning equipment, whether you’re an expert or a beginner. If you are interested in attending a master-class, or have done in the past, then in exchange we can send you some of the kit below. (N.B. grant conditions currently limit this to the UK and Ireland.)

  • A4 braille frame
  • Stylus
  • Samples of A4 braille paper
  • 8-cell braille word forming block (for learners)
  • Tactile abacus

For introductions to using this kit, please see recordings of our previous master-classes.

To claim your equipment, or apply on someone else’s behalf, please subscribe to our Newsletter and you will receive instructions.

Receipt of equipment is on condition of the following:

  • Stocks are limited so let us know which of the above to send and which not to send.
  • Confirm that you or the recipient are interested in attending our braille master-classes. These can be attended by telephone or Zoom.
  • Confirm the British or Irish postal address. As the package is too large to go through a standard letter-box, please give us directions as to where to leave it should you not be in.
  • You can keep kit as long as you like. However please confirm that this equipment will not be resold and that you or the recipient are happy to donate it to another Braille reader when/if it is no longer wanted (or post it back to the Braillists).

For data protection reasons your address will only be held by our partner, Vision Through Sound, and will not be seen by other Braillists members. If you are not from the UK or Ireland then you can ask on the Braillists’ email forum for advice on similar resources in your country.

Perkins Brailler

We recommend searching for second hand braillers in the first instance. They can often be obtained for around £100 on websites such as EBay, and even braillers which are apparently in poor condition can often be repaired relatively inexpensively.

If you do wish to purchase a new brailler, the following options are available:

Note that the Smart Brailler listed above is based on the Next Generation Perkins (no longer available) and hence does not accept Perkins-size braille paper.

For Perkins Brailler Repairs, Please Contact:

Perkins Brailler Repairs, The Royal National College for the Blind, Venns Lane, Hereford, HR1 1DT: 0800 027 6574, 01432 376 378, [email protected]

Alan Thorpe, 1, Carter Road, Sheffield, S8 9CS: 0114 220 7007, 0114 200 7007, 07961 406739, [email protected]

Coventry Resource Centre for the Blind, 33, Earlsdon Avenue South, Earlsdon, Coventry, CV5 6th: 024 7671 7522, [email protected]

Harry Thompson, Parsonage Farm, South Street, Blewbury, Oxon, OX11 9PR: 01235 850 904, [email protected]

In The Republic Of Ireland:

Greg Flanagan, Arbour Hill Braille Unit, Arbour Hill Prison, Dublin 7: 01 472 4058

Mountbatten Brailler

This product family is a well-known electronic alternative to the Perkins Brailler. With significantly reduced key travel, it is particularly suited to people with motor and physical difficulties. However, children also appreciate the speech feedback, and the options that it has for connectivity equip it for basic braille-to-print and computer-driven embossing tasks.

Other Braille Writers

Please note: in practice, the maximum paper width for the Tatrapoint is US letter size or A4.

Braille Frames (Slates) and Styluses

Using the Janus Frame

To put paper into the frame you slide it in the open side. You can find this because it has a small intent in the plastic around the edge of one of the short sides. Note that the frame does not unfold like a standard frame.

Paper slides in there and now can be embossed using the stylus included. This is a flat, sculpted stylus, very handy for keeping in a purse or pocket or similar (compared with the conventional more bulbous handled ones).

You can write on both sides of the paper, just turn the frame over. The spacing is inter-line, meaning the lines are off-set on one side compared with the other. When you take the card out and put it back in again to make a correction be careful to put it in the same way around, otherwise the lines will not line up.

Braille Labelling

Braille Keyring

Braille and Tactile Graphics Embossers

In the UK, the two most common embosser manufacturers are Index Braille AB (best for braille) and ViewPlus Technologies (best for tactile graphics). Other manufacturers, such as Braillo and Interpoint nv, make extremely high speed braille embossers for large braille production units and are not discussed here.

Index

These embossers produce industry-leading braille dots at high speed, spare parts are easily obtained and technical support is world class. However, only low resolution tactile graphics are possible.

The following models are available:

ViewPlus

The dots produced by these embossers are often described as “watery” or “spikey” and are not generally considered satisfactory as braille dots. Prolonged reading of ViewPlus braille dots often causes fatique in the fingers. However, these embossers produce excellent tactile graphics, with resolutions and variable dot heights which other embossers cannot match.

Sight and Sound Technology Ltd sell the following models:

Geometry

For best results with geometry, we recommend also purchasing some cork tiles, pins and rubber bands.

Heat Fusers, Thermoform Machines and Related Accessories