Monthly Archives: January 2015

Talking about Braille …

Last night I led a session on the history of braille production for the Bristol Braillists Group. They meet every couple of months to test and give feedback on the Canute, a low-cost braille e-book reader being developed by Bristol Braille Technology.

My talk covered devices for personal braille production, rather than duplication equipment. Devices like the Perkins Brailler, the Stainsby, various hand frames and modern electronic braille note takers with refreshable braille displays

You can find out more about Bristol Braille Technology and the Canute e-reader here:

For images and short descriptions of a wide range of mechanical braillers follow this link:


Taking the long view

I have just been reading an article by Barry Ginley on the V&A’s journey to becoming accessible to disabled people. It focuses on the barriers faced by visually impaired visitors and how to remove them, but it also mentions the need for inclusive access for all visitors. It has lots of information about access solutions that work well, and some that don’t, and it stresses the importance of long term planning for access. The bits on handling objects and audio are particularly interesting.

Although the V&A is very different to Bristol Museums, there is a great deal in this article that corresponds with my own experience, and not only because its author is also blind.

You can read the article in Disability Studies Quarterly, Vol 33, No 3 (2013) by following this link:

KNFB Reader

Just before Christmas I downloaded the KNFB Reader. It’s an app that allows a visually impaired person to scan text and have it read aloud on their smart phone. It is really fast and very accurate, particularly with clear text on a plain background. So, all we have to do in the museum is loan visually impaired visitors a device with the app installed on it and that’s them sorted, right? Wrong!

Even if all visually impaired visitors could use a smart phone confidently, which is far from the case, museum text is usually written on the assumption that the reader can see the objects that it refers to. Unless we produce Inclusive Text, which contains enough visual information for visually impaired people to know what we are writing about, we will continue to exclude them. This is really important now that even more visually impaired people will be able to read text independently in museums and galleries.

You can learn more about the KNFB Reader app by following the link: