by Peter Claridge Bowler
The Braille ‘n Speak is an electronic braille notetaker with braille input and speech output only. It was small, compact, and very easy to carry around with you on a day to day basis. This was a huge step forward to the personal portable computer. It was available for blind people and braille readers before sighted people got their own personal notetaking devices. It was produced by Freedom Scientific.
Though it had no braille output, it had a rather advanced speech synthesizer for the time. It was found to be an extremely popular tool for both students, professionals, and in everyday life.
The Braille ‘n Speak was first brought about in the early 90s and then re-released in the 2000s, along with the braille lite, the original version of it was a sandy colour in the 90s while the 2000s version was dark purple.
It had a basic document creator and file editor. You were able to take notes on the fly. The device was very quick to power on, you could also transfer files from your computer to the device so that you could edit and read them, you could also use it as a braille input device for any computer that was running a screen reader like JAWS, it gave you the ability to control your computer directly from the Braille ‘n Speak.
This was a small simple device compared to what we have access to today regarding personal computers and braille equipment, but it was one of the many stepping stones that allowed the creation of the equipment that we use today.
Also very recently within the last 8 months Orbit Research has announced that they are bringing out their own version of the Braille ‘n Speak called the Orbit Speak, which like the Braille ‘n Speak, comes with a braille input and speech output. The difference will be that the Orbit Speak will has to online Bookshare and Daisy Player books, along with the ability to connected to up to 5 different devices via Bluetooth and USB. So, to say I’m a little excited to give it a go when it comes out is an understatement.
But I cannot express the fact that without devices like the Braille ‘n Speak we wouldn’t have devices like this today.
There is an excellent article published about the early version of the Braille ‘n Speak back in 1990. You can check it out through the link below.