Newsletter: Braille Literacy Canada, January 2017 Newsletter

[Braille Literacy Canada logo]
January 2017 ● Issue #5

Notice to B LC Members: Save the Date

Our next annual General Meeting (AGM) will take place in Toronto on May 6th, 2017. We recognize that not all members will be able to attend in person, so we will offer some options for participating electronically. These will include appointing a proxy or submitting an electronic ballot. A notice with more details will be sent out to members in the next couple of months. We look forward to seeing you there!

New UEB Listserv

If you are learning, teaching or transcribing Unified English Braille (UEB) and are looking for a place to post questions, Braille Literacy Canada (BLC) invites you to join our UEB listserve. Subscribers can post to the list, and all queries will be answered by code and formatting experts. Information and announcements relevant to UEB will also be forwarded to this list.

To subscribe to the discussion list, visit

Focus Group Announcement

As many of you may be aware, the federal government is currently undertaking a consultation process to inform the development of new legislation aimed at improving accessibility and removing barriers to the participation of persons with disabilities in all aspects of Canadian society. Public consultation sessions have been held in major cities across the country, but individuals and organizations are also permitted to make written submissions to the process.

The scope of these consultations is wide. Feedback is being sought to help determine the goals of the legislation, the approach it will take to improving accessibility, how standards should be developed, how compliance and enforcement should be handled, and what the government can do to support organizations in becoming accessible. More information on the consultation process generally can be found at
For more information on the scope and reach of the federal government’s regulatory power, please see:

Braille Literacy Canada intends to submit a position paper to the government outlining the importance of federal organizations ensuring that information is accessible and available in braille. To facilitate this, we would like to hold a consultation session with our members to gather input on what factors should be considered in this submission. Questions to consider may include:

(1) What arguments (academic, theoretical, practical, or otherwise) would you use to justify the importance of having access to braille from federally-regulated organizations for Canadians who are blind or deaf-blind?
(2) Should braille materials be on hand, available upon request, or, within a “reasonable” timeframe? If the latter, what would seem to be a “reasonable”
(3) In the reverse direction, should Canadians who are blind or deaf-blind have the right to submit documentation in braille to federally-regulated bodies?
(4) To what degree, if at all, should the legislation specify the standards to which braille is to be produced? What ‘standards’ should it adopt, and how?
(5) Should we attempt to solidify, through legislation (or regulation), Braille Literacy Canada’s (internationally recognized) role as the preeminent “authority”
for braille standards in Canada? If so, how?

Anyone interested in contributing to this discussion is invited to join us by telephone for a conference call on January 28th, 2016 between 1 and 3pm Eastern (10-noon Pacific, 11am-1pm Mountain, 12-2pm Central, 2-4pm Atlantic) or, alternatively, to submit written comments and feedback to
on or before January 28th, 2016.

If you would like to participate in the conference call, please e-mail
to register. Information on how to join the call will be sent to you a few days before the event.

We look forward to your participation on January 28th! If you have any questions or require further information in the interim, please feel free to email

BLC Committees

As many of you know, the work of BLC is done by committees. Here is a list of our current committees and their responsibilities. New members are always welcome!

For more information please send an email to

The web committee

* Maintains web site and social media and updates content with current events, resources and other items of interest.
* Works with other committees to update content as appropriate.

The membership committee

* Collaborates with the BLC treasurer and the Corporate Secretary to manage membership data.
* Ensures that email reminders are sent to those members who have not renewed their membership.
* Proposes options for increasing membership.

The communications committee

* Proposes options for increasing communication with BLC members and the general public.
* Prepares and distributes the BLC newsletter.

The braille formats committee

* Determines other guidelines that should be reviewed by BLC for use in Canada. Members of this committee must have a thorough knowledge of braille and must be familiar with issues specific to formatting.

The teaching and learning committee

* Conducts research related to braille instruction of children and adults.
* Seeks funding sources to support this research. Committee members should be employed as an educator of visually impaired students or be studying in the field.

The nominations committee

* Seeks candidates to fill vacant positions on the Board of Directors.
* Presents the slate of nominations to BLC members at the Annual General Meeting.

The braille promotion committee

* Proposes and implements activities to promote braille in Canada. The brailler bounce initiative is a project of this committee.
* Plans teleconferences on various braille-related issues.

The French braille standards committee

* Proposes and implements research and/or other projects pertaining to French braille in Canada.

The bylaws committee

* Drafts text for changes to BLC bylaws as appropriate. Previous experience with bylaw revisions is an asset.

Braille Screen Input on iOS Devices
By Natalie Martiniello

For people who are blind or who have low vision, one could argue that the built-in accessibility of Apple’s iPhone and iPad ranks among the most significant developments for our community since the year 2000. Based on universal design, Apple products led the way by demonstrating that technology could and should be accessible to diverse users from the start. Rather than retrofitting, universal design from inception has not only levelled the playingfield for those of us who are blind, but has also benefited users with perfect sight. After all, doesn’t everyone – sighted or blind – use Siri nowadays? And this is the point. When you make things accessible from the start, everyone wins. And the trend is catching on. Though Apple paved the way, other companies are following in their footsteps – Google’s Android, being one.

As someone who is blind and who has also taught clients who are blind, I have seen multiple examples of how this innovative technology can increase independence and opportunities. I have about 7 pages of apps on my iPhone. The true wonder and joy of all of this, for those of us who are braille users, is that all of these apps that are accessible with VoiceOver (the built-in screenreader on Apple products) can be used with a braille display. Suddenly, we have so much more access to braille – for learning, practicing and using it in our everyday lives. With the launch of the Orbit Braille Reader (sold by CNIB in Canada), the first low-cost braille display, access to braille information in this way is about to increase for many more people. Despite what mainstream news at times inaccurately proclaims, technology hasn’t replaced braille – it’s solidified its place in a truly exciting digital age!

As a Vision Rehabilitation Therapist, I’ve harnessed the power of this technology with braille learners – many of whom are adults and seniors, when possible. It allows us to access far more material than ever before, and enables braille learners to practice braille in ways that are so meaningful to them – writing a facebook post, a tweet or an iMessage provides instant satisfaction to many, particularly for those who are losing their vision and who are eager to reconnect with the social world. These are just some creative ways one might use a braille display (connected to an I-device) during lessons.

I’d like to use the remainder of this post, however, to describe the use of the on-screen braille keyboard. Since iOS 8, braille users can activate an on-screen braille keyboard that they can use in place of the regular, on-screen QWERTY keyboard that usually appears for typing. Though many blind users, myself included, can and do use the regular on-screen QWERTY keyboard, it can be somewhat cumbersome and time-consuming to use, since the letters need to be located and selected one at a time. The on-screen braille keyboard, in contrast, allows you to form braille letters directly onto the screen, which greatly increases writing speed.

I use the on-screen braille keyboard exclusively for all my iPhone typing, and can type quicker than most of my sighted friends because of it. It’s also a great way for learners to practice braille. Using the on-screen braille keyboard requires them to think about how braille symbols are formed and what dots are included – It can be a great way to reinforce the learning of braille letters while accomplishing meaningful and relevant tasks on an I-device. Plus, the built-in screen reader on Apple products provides instant audio feedback, which is a great motivator and learning support for students!

To activate the on-screen braille keyboard:
1. Select the Settings Application from the Home Screen.
2. Press the “General “button, found within the Settings main menu.
3. Press the “Accessibility” options button.
4. Press the “VoiceOver” options button.
5. Press the “Rotor” options button.
6. Find the Braille Screen Input function.
7. If Voiceover doesn’t say, “Selected,” double-tap on braille-screen input to add it to your rotor.

Though it’s beyond the scope of this article to explain the Rotor and how it works, I recommend this website which provides a very helpful explanation:

Once you’ve followed the above steps, you’ll also want to configure your braille-screen input to best meet your needs before using it for the first time. Visit this link to learn more about how to select uncontracted or contracted input, six or eight key entry, and the braille code you wish to use when typing. By default, the braille code that is used for Braille Screen Input is Unified English Braille:

Once you’ve added braille screen input to your rotor and configured the settings for the first time, the braille screen input will now be available to you whenever you’re within a text field and need to type. Simply perform the Rotor gesture to select braille screen input.

How to Type using On-Screen Braille Input: Once activated, there are two options for typing using braille screen input. Table-top mode (when your device is laying flat on any surface) allows you to use your index, middle and ring fingers for typing as if it were a Perkins brailler. Screen-away mode, which I prefer and find more reliable, is preferable for smaller devices (such as the iPhone). To use braille screen input in screen-away mode:

• Activate braille screen input in your rotor
• Hold your iPhone in landscape orientation (that is, with the screen facing away from you, and the home button to the right).
• Hold your iPhone using your thumbs on the top edge and your pinky fingers on the bottom edge of your device. Your Index, Middle, and Ring fingers should now form two vertical columns of three dots just like the dots in the braille cell.
• Imagine this braille cell in front of you before typing, with dots 1, 2 and 3 placed vertically on the left and dots 4, 5 and 6 placed vertically on the right. Press down the fingers that correspond to the dots of the symbol you’d like to form. For example, press down your left index finger (which should be located on the top left of your screen in landscape orientation) to form the letter “A”, and press your left index, right index and right middle fingers together to form the letter “D”.

Try doing the entire alphabet for practice!

Other useful gestures when using braille screen input in screen-away mode:
• Swipe with one finger towards the left to delete the previous letter
• Swipe with one finger towards the right to insert a “space”
• Swipe with two fingers towards the right to move to the next line (VoiceOver will say “new line”)
• Swipe with three fingers towards the left to switch to contracted mode (which allows you to type contractions).
Swipe with three fingers towards the right to move back to uncontracted mode.

Now, you can type in braille on your device wherever you are!

Braille: A Story of Personal Life-Long Empowerment
By Leo Bissonnette, Ph.D.

As we celebrate the contribution of Louis Braille and his impact on our individual lives today, this issue features articles that make a strong case for the value of braille. My story adds to this accumulated statement of empowerment and the need to keep braille relevant in the lives of the blind today.

Like so many others in the blind community, I have listened to audio books since I was able to operate the record player that used to store talking books back in my early childhood. Today I enjoy reading books on my iPhone, using my Victor Reader Stream, or sitting at the computer. As important as the digital age is to me, nothing has even come close to empowering me as a blind person the way braille has.

A Little About Me
I was born with low vision and started my education working in large print. Then my mother, who was quite the advocate in making sure that I received a good education and essential rehabilitation services, felt that braille should be a tool added to my toolbox. So I started learning braille in third grade while attending the Montreal Association School for the Blind. I quickly took to using braille right away, and have used it as my first tool, taken from my toolbox, on a daily basis ever since.
Back to the Present
These days, what with the portability and low cost of ebooks, it seems that braille is struggling to keep its place in the lives of the blind. The high cost of braille displays compounds the problem, making it easier to simply abandon braille, or perhaps relegate it to infrequent use. Does it really matter if Braille becomes a medium that exists only in the memories of older blind people? Is it time to move on to more modern and cost-effective ways of communicating the written word, or should we fight to bring braille back to the forefront of our collective consciousness? Why is braille still relevant today?

I believe braille is essential for good writing. I would not be the proficient speller I am today if I had not read hundreds of thousands of braille words over the course of my life. While any decent screen reader provides the ability to spell words and review lines of text character by character, it is virtually impossible to catch all formatting and spelling errors in a document with speech alone. Anyone who uses text-to-speech software at all knows all too well the frustration of deciphering b’s from d’s, and sorting out all of the words that sound alike but are spelled differently such as there and their.

When I really need to digest something I am reading, I will slow my speech rate down or transfer the content to an SD card for later reading on my braille display. I am constantly amazed at the number of errors I find in documents I am reading in braille that I did not catch with speech alone.

Would I want to go back to the days before I had my iPhone and portable book reader? No way. Am I as likely to use a slate and stylus today as I was 50 years ago—although I still carry one in my brief case just in case I need it? Probably not. Can I imagine what my life would be like if I never again read another line of text in braille? I don’t even want to dwell on the thought!

Exploring Braille Settings on iOS
by Kim Kilpatrick

This will be the first in a series of articles exploring the use of braille displays with iDevices.

In this article, I will briefly describe the braille settings and show you how to pair a refreshable braille display with an iDevice. Braille support for iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, and iPad Mini is built into the screen reader which comes with your iDevice. This screen reader is called VoiceOver. Most braille displays work well with VoiceOver. You must use Bluetooth to pair a braille display with your iDevice. Unlike other Bluetooth devices (keyboards, headphones, speakers) braille displays are not paired in the Bluetooth settings but are paired in the VoiceOver braille settings.

Braille Settings
In Settings on your iDevice go to General, then Accessibility, then VoiceOver. You can also ask Siri to open VoiceOver settings. Double tap on Braille.

The settings are as follows (double tap each setting to explore its options):
1. Braille Display Output (this is what you read on your display). You can choose from uncontracted 6-dot braille, uncontracted 8-dot braille and contracted braille. Double tap on the one you want.
2. Braille Display Input (what you use when brailling with your display). Again, you can choose from uncontracted 6-dot braille, uncontracted 8-dot braille and contracted braille.
3. Automatic Braille Translation: When this is turned on, it translates braille contractions as you type. When it is off, it waits until you press space to translate the braille.
4. Braille Screen Input: This is for typing braille on the screen of your iDevice. I will discuss this in a future article.
5. Status Cells: This will also be discussed in a later article.
6. Equations Use Nemeth Code: You can toggle this off or on depending on how you feel about Nemeth code.
7. Show on screen keyboard: I will discuss this in a future article.
8. Turn pages when panning: This is also a toggle and I suggest you leave it on as when reading a book it will just keep going to the next page.
9. Braille Translation: In English braille your options are: English (unified), English (US) and English (United Kingdom)
10. Alert display duration: This will be discussed in a future article.
11. Choose a braille display: Verify that Bluetooth is enabled on your iDevice.

Pairing Your Braille Display
Make sure that your braille display is in Bluetooth or pairing mode. How you achieve this varies depending on your display (consult your braille display manual). Then, find your braille display in the list below the heading titled Choose a braille display and double tap on it.

Some displays pair automatically while others require a PIN to be entered. Check your braille display manual for more information.

Once the display is paired, it should stay paired.

When turning off the braille display and/or iDevice, lock the device first, then turn off the display. When turning them back on, turn on the braille display first then unlock your device. They should pair again without you having to do anything in the braille settings.

If you need help using your braille display with your iPhone, or have questions or topics you wish to be covered, let us know.

BLC on Social Media

Braille Literacy Canada is now on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn! Find us there to receive news about BLC and braille, to stay informed, and to join a network of others devoted to braille just like you.

[Facebook] Braille Literacy Canada/>


Top Tech Tidbits

Top Tech Tidbits is a weekly newsletter that discusses the latest assistive technology news. It is published by Flying Blind LLC. The information in this blog post was found in this newsletter. To check out Flying Blind go tohttp://www.flying-blind.comSeveral conventions and exhibitions were held last week in the U.S. and U.K. Sight  village is one such exhibition. This annual event is held in Birmingham and showcases many different products and services relating to technology, sport, and many other topics. To hear some of the content from Sight village go to The two annual conventions in the U.S. that were held this past week were the Nfb (National Convention Of The Blind) and Acb (American Council Of The Blind) conventions. You can find lots of  tech-related audio, including the latest news from Freedom Scientific, Ihabilitation, Duxbury systems, and so much more    from both conventions at You can find some tech-related audio from the Acb convention exclusively at

Emerging Technologies

Emerging Technologies
Lo wViz Guide: Indoor Navigation for Blind and Visually Impaired People
Deborah Kendrick

It’s been more than a decade since I reviewed the first GPS (global positioning system) product designed for users with visual impairments. Walking through an unfamiliar neighborhood and hearing the names of the businesses I passed and the intersections I approached seemed nothing short of miraculous 10 or 15 years ago. Today, however, it’s rare to find a person, blind or sighted, who doesn’t own at least one way-finding device or tool for mapping directions from one point to another.

Sighted people always had the ability to look around to get their bearings, noting familiar landmarks and reading signs. For people with visual impairments, however, the concept of “looking around” was, and is, somewhat astonishing.

With a reliable GPS with braille or audio output, you can map directions for the friend giving you a lift somewhere, or access more detailed set directions for navigating new turf on foot.

For such navigation tools to work, however, your device of choice, be it a smart phone or specialty device, needs to be able to connect to satellites. You can navigate to the hotel, the doctor’s office, or the shopping mall, but once inside, devices often lose contact with satellites. A solution for indoor navigation has been on the wish list of many of us for years.

Dan Roberts, founder and president of MD Support (the MD stands for macular degeneration, the disease that compromised Roberts’ own eyesight 20 years ago), built a 1,000-page Internet-based support resource for people who are blind and who have low vision. He noticed that smart, competent people with vision loss would struggle for orientation information in short-term settings like conferences and seminars. Consequently, he began researching to find a solution to the indoor navigation problem.
Roberts discovered that a solution for indoor navigation had been developed and installed in train stations and other venues in some European countries. Finding your way around an enormous venue like a cruise ship, a hospital, or an Ikea store is, after all, by no means a challenge unique to blindness. In such large and complicated venues, sighted people struggle with how to find a desired destination or, for that matter, their rooms or an exit., a mainstream way-finding company, is headquartered in Vienna, Austria, with offices in the United States and elsewhere. The company has installed a number of indoor way-finding systems. Its efforts to date, however, have focused on permanent installations that establish an indoor navigation system in a specific facility with the intention of that system being used by many over a long period of time.

On behalf of MD support, Dan Roberts approached with the idea of developing a “white label” app for iPhone users with visual impairments. His primary challenge was to persuade this company to allow him to take this “technological ball” and run with it in another direction, namely installations of a temporary nature, providing indoor navigation in venues where conferences, seminars, and other special events are held that attract a number of blind and low vision people.

By no means the first attempt at developing an audio indoor navigation system for people who have visual or cognitive disabilities, LowViz Guide, the app eventually developed by and MD Support, is unique in that it takes advantage of equipment many people already possess: an Apple iPhone or other iOS device.

How LowViz Guide Works
Small iBeacons, about the size of a D-cell battery, are mounted on all points to be identified within an indoor environment. Your iOS device can recognize these iBeacons via Bluetooth.

In a conference hotel, iBeacons may identify the names of meeting rooms, men’s and women’s rest rooms, coffee stations, ATM machines, the hotel’s registration desk, and the like.

In order to identify the points that should carry iBeacons, Dan Roberts downloads a map of the venue, finds the important landmarks in advance, and records a message for each iBeacon.

After installing the LowViz Guide app on your phone, and traveling to a destination where iBeacons have been installed, you can navigate to these points. Every screen of the LowViz app has three tabs at the bottom: Map View, Categories, and Search.

If you select the Search tab, the keypad appears, including the Dictate button as in any other app. You can then type or use dictation to search for, say, “Chicago Room.”

If the Chicago Room is one of the landmarks included in the mapping of this particular venue, you will then hear spoken directions, giving you a step-by-step road map for finding your desired location.

As you move toward your desired location, the phone will emit a tone, getting lower in pitch as you move closer to your destination.

Free Installations During the Pilot Phase
Although Dan Roberts says that the cost of an installation is extremely high, MD Support has received generous grants to cover all costs for initial installations. In its pilot phase, MD Support will install LowViz Guide entirely free to conferences and seminars whose organizers request it.

Its first appearance was in Atlanta, Georgia in April 2015, at a disability rights symposium. There were only about 20 people with visual impairments at this particular event, which Roberts says was ideal since the small number enabled him to work with each participant individually.

The results were more than satisfactory. Participants could stand in one location, identify a destination (even on the other side of a wall), and then use the LowViz Guide app to walk there safely and independently.

How to Test Drive the LowViz Guide App
At this writing, MD Support has made commitments to install LowViz Guide at the American Council of the Blind convention to be held in July 2015 in Dallas, Texas, and at the Guide Dogs for the Blind reunion to be held in September 2015, in Portland, Oregon.

To use the app in a venue that has a LowViz Guide installed, participants need to have an iPhone or other iOS device with the free app downloaded.

Any blind person who travels knows well the frustration and time that can go into figuring out the layout of an enormous hotel or other conference venue. The idea that we, as blind people, might now have an opportunity to show sighted participants the way to the exhibits is more than a little exhilarating.

Time and experience will tell how well this new system really works, but kudos are definitely in order to MD Support and for the effort.

To request LowViz Guide at a conference or seminar for blind and visually impaired participants or to learn more about the project, go to the MD Support website or e-mail Dan Roberts.


BlindShell mobile app

BlindShell, the mobile phone for visually impaired users that was developed in cooperation with Czech Association of Blind and Visually Impaired (SONS) is experiencing rapid growth. Schools, business partners and organizations all across the Europe are impressed and interested to spread BlindShell among blind people. Want to find our why is this solution so interesting for blind people?

View Site Below

Finger Reader Development at MIT

From AFB’S Access WorldIn March 2015, the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology (MIT) announced that researchers in its Media Lab had developed a prototype of a reading device that is worn on the finger. Many people in the
accessibility community were very excited by this prospect. Unlike other
common OCR (optical character recognition) apps that first scan and then
process the page, the MIT device, dubed the Finger Reader, reads text in
real time.

The concept for the device was developed by Roy Shilkrot, an MIT graduate
student in Media Arts and Sciences. He and Media Lab postdoc Jochen Huber
are lead authors on a paper describing the FingerReader. Additional
co-authors were Pattie Maes, the Alexander W. Dreyfoos Professor in Media
Arts and Sciences at MIT; Suranga Nanayakkara, an assistant professor of
engineering product development at the Singapore University of Technology
and Design, who was a postdoc and later a visiting professor in Maes’ lab;
and Meng Ee Wong of Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Dr. Huber
presented the paper in April at the Association for Computing Machinery
Computer-Human Interface conference.

Shilkrot graciously agreed to be interviewed for this article. He explained,
“I came up with the idea about two years ago. I thought it would be very
interesting to think about reading because I know accessing print material
is not a solved problem for people with a visual impairment. Because of the
tactile sensitivity of the finger and the directionality of the finger when
you point at something, it just made sense to think about reading and using
the finger.”

OCR programs such as Abbyy TextGrabber & Translator and Prizmo, Finger
Reader does not need to scan an entire page before it processes text. The
Finger Reader lets the user move around the page at will, voicing text
detected wherever the user points the device. This is especially useful when
looking for specific information or reading a menu. Shilkrot said, “We want
to create a reading experience that will be closer to that experienced by a
person without a visual impairment.”

A new paper about the Finger Reader will be published within the next few
months. Shilkrot said, “We’ll go further into why we think this product is
as good as or better than current solutions. What it does is sort of level
the field, in terms of reading, for people with and without a visual

Physical Description of the Finger Reader

Shilkrot describs the FingerReader as “rather small, sort of like an
oversized ring.” He said that the ring was about the height of one average
finger width and about half the distance from knuckle to knuckle. He added
that the FingerReader itself, without a cable, has not been weighed, but he
estimates it at about 50 grams (1.8 ounces) or less. The latest version is
more like an easily adjustable rubber strap than a hard ring.

How the Finger Reader Works

The device’s camera points down from where it is worn on the finger, but
does not touch the page. As the tip of the finger moves along the page, the
camera gets a wide view of the print. Tones play if the user’s finger
deviates from the current line.

Shilkrot and the research team developed a complex algorithm to convert what the camera sees into speech. According to Shilkrot, it usually takes less
than half a second to speak a word once it is detected.

As the wearer’s finger moves across the page, the camera uses the algorithm
to process what it is seeing. Shilkrot said, “The idea of what we’re trying
to do is that you can always trust the device to say the word that is in
front of your fingertip. The camera sits on the finger, but does not touch
the page. That’s how it gets such a wide view of what’s there. It tracks the
fingertip and it tracks the words on the page. It gives you audio cues to
feel where the print is and it tries to infer the next word to say.”

The FingerReader currently connects to an Android device such as a phone or
tablet. The developers are working on a wireless version. Shilkrot
explained, “The development process on Android is easier because it’s more
open. With iOS we still haven’t figured out if we can connect the device and
have the phone work with it. It has to do with some drivers and we don’t
have a definitive answer to that yet.”

Testing the Finger Reader

Shilkrot expressed his gratitude to members of the VIBUG (Visually Impaired
& Blind Users Group) who meet at MIT. This group was involved with
recruiting test subjects for the Finger Reader prototype. Shilkrot said that
most, if not all, testers were members of the group, adding, “In the name of
the team I would like to thank them.”

When the Finger Reader was first tested, researchers used both vibrations
and audio signals, separately and together, to help guide the user’s finger.
There were two motors on the device, one on the top and one on the bottom.
They tried three different methods: vibrations alone, tones alone, and the
two together. The researchers chose to use the audio method alone since
audio sensors are lighter and smaller than vibrating motors.

Shilkrot discussed further development of the Finger Reader. “There’s a lot
more to do on the software side and on the device side to correct things. We
don’t need to bother the user with these things. The user needs to be
reading naturally and the device will be doing the heavy lifting.”

Availability of the Finger Reader

The Finger Reader is still in the developmental stage. Shilkrot explains the
timeline thusly: “We are not a company with a lot of funding; we can’t hire
a bunch of engineers. We’re doing this in an academic route, [which] means
that we have limited funding, limited people, and limited time to work on
this. That’s why it will take longer than people might expect, but it’s
definitely taking steps to where it’s becoming more like a product.”

Shilkrot didn’t know how much the Finger Reader will cost since a final
version has not yet been developed. He did mention that a user who already
has an Android device will only need to purchase the Finger Reader to have
on-the-go reading capability.

The Future of the Finger Reader

According to Shilkrot, many people are skeptical about the Finger Reader. He
said, “We’ve got to keep in mind that we’re researching something that has
never been done before. We’re trying to come up with this new way of reading
and we’re still trying to figure out the best way to do it. If we keep
working on it, involving people with a visual impairment into our design
process and our developmental process, I think we can end up with something
that is good and useful.” He understands that people want to feel and try
the Finger Reader, but at present, more development and testing need to be done.