The BrailleSense Polaris: Google Apps - Uploading & Downloading Documents

One of the reasons my students use the Braille Sense Polaris is because the braille notetaker uses Google applications to directly access Google Chrome, Docs, Drive, and Classroom when connected to WiFi, which is the platform utilized by each school district. From a professional and personal perspective, using the Android Apps for Google is extremely frustrating. Based on my experience and students’ experiences over the past year, the following Apps work inconsistently: Drive, Docs, and Classroom. When I have contacted tech support or written the manufacturer, I have been told that the Polaris is still in development and that there is no guarantee Google Applications are fully supported. I have been informed the manufacturer is in the process of overhauling the Word Processor and Web Browser, as well as working on improving compatibility with Google Apps. 

When using Docs or Drive, you can navigate between elements using F3 (Tab) or Space + F3 and initial letter navigation. When a Google Doc is open, the Polaris often puts the focus on the content of the document (known as the edit field). Press Enter to enter or edit text in the edit field. You can often get kicked out of the edit field, which can be extremely frustrating for students. However, when the application is working, you can easily write and edit text. To read a document, the edit field needs to be activated. Use the scroll keys or Space + Dot 4 to advance to the next line when reading and Space + Dot 1 to go the previous line. The command Space + Dot 1, 2, 3, often works to take you to the top of the text in the document, while Space + Dots 4, 5, 6 takes you to the bottom of the document. However, when you use these commands, you also might be kicked out of the edit field. 

To reliably access curriculum materials using the Polaris with Google Drive and Docs, I am in agreement with the manufacturer that it is best to download files from Google Drive and upload files to Drive. Below are steps to complete these actions. However, it is important to understand that as Google updates applications such as Drive or Docs, the step by step process will likely change. Once you and your student are familiar with what elements to look for within the applications, you will both be able to upload and download files as the applications update. 

Directions to Upload Files to Google Drive

  • From the Main Menu, go to All App. Press Enter.
  • Navigate to Drive. Press Enter.
  • Use the key command Alt+N to go to New.
  • Use F3 (Tab) or Space+F3 to navigate to Upload. Press Enter.
  • Use F3 (Tab) or Space+F3 to navigate to More Options. Press Enter. Navigate to Internal Storage. Press Enter. This will take you to a list of folders and files on the Polaris. Note:
    • Once you have initially navigated to Internal Storage, I have found that you don't have to navigate to it again. Just use F3 or the scroll keys to navigate between the folders and/or files.
    • When initial letter navigation has been used to go directly to Internal Storage, I have found that it has not worked on the four Polaris units I tried. Using Tab has been easier to navigate to Internal Storage. 
  • Use F3 (Tab) to go to the list of folders/files. Use scroll keys or Space + Dot 4 and Space + Dot 1 to navigate through the list of files until you get to the file you want to upload. Press Enter. The file should be uploaded to your Google Drive.

Direction to Download Files from Google Drive

  • From the Main Menu, go to All App. Press Enter.
  • Navigate to Drive. Press Enter
  • Since Drive shows you a list of your most recent files, you can search for files under Search if you know the file name. You can also use initial letter navigation or F3 (Tab) or Space + Tab to locate the file.
  • When you have located the file you want, use F3 to go to the More Actions button of the file. Press Enter.
  • Navigate to Download using F3 or initial letter navigation. Press Enter. The file will be downloaded into the Download folder of the Flash disk of the Polaris.
    • Note: All documents appear to be downloaded as PDF files. Once downloaded, the file format of the downloaded file can be changed to .docx so it can be read and edited. Based on my knowledge and experience, the file format of files downloaded directly from Google Drive to the Polaris cannot be changed from PDF to .docx prior to downloading. 

Documents can also be directly downloaded onto the Polaris using the app Docs following the procedure above. 

HIMS has created several helpful Youtube tutorials for using the BrailleSense Polaris. Below is the video about setting up a Google Account. 

Additional BrailleSense Polaris Posts in this Series

The BrailleSense Polaris: Using the Word Processor

The BrailleSense Polaris: Terminal Clipboard

Embed Video: 


Posted by lsbeckhardMar 27, 2019

Help!!! My student just got the Polaris, and Google Docs is a hassle with it. We can download the google doc to the wordprocessor, but cannot upload it back to google docs. For some reason, we can't access documents in the internal storage, only on google drive. Same for when trying to attach the document to an email when using gmail. Called HIMS and they had no suggestions to offer!!!!

Posted by Diane BraunerApr 01, 2019

For others who are having the same issue: It appears that this issue is an inconsistent issue on multiple Polaris units. Teachers are working with HIMS Tech Support to resolve the issue. Stay tuned!

Posted by R SaladinoApr 05, 2019

HIMS is aware of issues with the Polaris inconsistently uploading files to Google Drive.  Yesterday, I was informed a firmware update that will allow users to directly upload files from your internal stroage to Google Drive will be coming out sooner.  The steps to upload documents to Google Drive will change, so HIMS has asked for us to be patient until the new firmware update is released.  Hopefully your experience with tech support as improved in th last month, as HIMS has hired and trained new staff.  According to an education consultant from HIMS, the company is in the process of creating educational curriculum for the Polaris and some of their other braille products. They will hopefully be released this fall.  Until the upgrade, users should be able to upload files to Google Drive following a similar set of steps listed below. I have been able to uplaod files on three units using this process. However, one of my students has been experiencing uses uploading from her Downloads folder, so she can to upload files only from her Documents folder. 
  • When Google Drive in open, navigate using Tab (F3) to More Options located at the top right of the screen. Press Enter.
  • A drop down menu will appear. Create should be the first item in the list. Select Create and press Enter.
  • Tab to Upload. Press Enter.
  • Navigate between the folders in your internal storage until you locate the file you want to upload. Select the file and press Enter. The file shoudl upload to Google Drive or the folder you had open when you uploaded the file. 
I will post more about the BraileSense Polaris soon, especially when the new firmware update is released.