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Hardware Overview: Braille Lite

Picture of Braille Lite
Braille Lite is a portable word-processor/note taker with 18 character refreshable Braille display and an adjustable speech synthesizer. It also includes a 56K modem so it can access POP3 email accounts.

The Braille Lite was developed in the late 1990's by Blazie Engineering because of the need for a machine with more functionality than the Braille 'N Speak, the first model.


Today, the Braille Lite 2000 contains the following features:
  • a Perkins Braille-style keyboard
  • synthetic speech that can be adjusted by rate, pitch, and verbosity
  • two ports -- a parallel and serial port -- for the user to plug the machine into a computer, Braille embosser or printer
  • a headphone jack and another jack to plug in the adaptor to recharge the battery

Unlike the Braille 'n Speak, the Braille Lite 2000 contains something very different: an 18-cell Braille display and two extra bars to advance the Braille display up or down the screen line by line. There is also a plug on the left side of the machine so that the user can attach a portable floppy-disc drive and save or backup their files.

The Braille Lite 2000, which weighs only three pounds, is ideal for notetaking and writing papers. It comes with a word processor, spell-checker, phone book, calendar, Scientific calculator, timer, stopwatch, and clock. The Calendar Alert feature, if set to on, will not let you create or do anything until you read what appointments you have for that day and close out of the document you created with your appointments for that day. The clock, if set to on, will either sound a tone at the top of the hour or speak the time, along with showing it on the Braille display.

There is also an ample amount of storage space on the Braille Lite for storing files. You can store notes you took during class in the RAM portion in folders you created, or in general folders already created for you. You can store chapters of books in the Flash Memory folders on the machine.

The Help File is a read-only file, and it is a permanent file on the Braille Lite, even if all other files have been deleted.

It is easy to navigate and execute commands if you are familiar with Braille. Many commands are performed by using chorded key commands (Chorded means you use a Braille letter in conjunction with the spacebar; for example: o-chord -- dots 1- 3-5 plus the spacebar -- takes you into the Options menu, where you can create, delete and open files.)

In the late 1990's, Freedom Scientific acquired Blazie Engineering, and continues to sell Braille Lite products. Freedom Scientific has made many improvements to the Braille Lite. In addition to the Braille Lite 2000, there are several other models to choose from. The Braille Lite 40 has a 40-cell Braille display and eight keys so that writing Computer Braille is easier than using the six keys on the Braille Lite 2000, but otherwise, it is very similar to the Braille Lite 2000.

More up-to-date versions of the Braille Lite were created by Freedom Scientific in 2000. The Braille Lite M20 and the Braille Lite M40 each have an 18-cell or 40-cell Braille display, but the advance bars have been replaced with whiz wheels that you can use to advance up and down the screen instead of the advance bars. The main advantage of the whiz wheels is that it is easy to go line-by- line or skim a document more efficiently, because it's easier to roll the wheel with your thumb or other finger of your hand instead of constantly clicking the advance bar. Additionally, the Braille Lite M20 or M40 come with an e-mail program and compact-Flash slots have replaced the need for a portable floppy drive.

Assistive Materials:

The staff at the ATAC has developed an overview of Braille, that includes the history of Braille development and links to other resources for learning and teaching Braille.

If you have any questions about our Brailling services, please Contact Us. We are happy to assist you.