Technology for the blind and visually impaired has come so far! Just in the last couple of years we have seen amazing new devices and features come out. One of these amazing new devices is the Braille Note Touch. It has so many new features that truly are mind blowing and one of these new features is that it can do graphing!
The Touch is wonderful as it has new KeyMath software with a Nemeth or UEB Math translator that allows students now to input the braille math code into the translator and transfer into a word document that will be seamless and beautiful print math for the teacher to read and grade.
Fall 2017 they released their graphing feature which is still being tweaked. The new graphing feature allows now for a print version of plotted points on a coordinate plane, including graphing functions.
It can also create a version to either be embossed or read using the refreshable braille display.
My high school braille student and I have been working with the Touch using this new feature for the last few months and I’d like to share a few tips.
1. Make sure that you know how to graph the “old fashioned” way before doing it on the Touch. It is important that the student has the foundational concepts down of what the coordinate plane is and how to plot points manually.
2. Make sure your student is able to read tactile graphics efficiently. This is also vitally important before attempting to interpret graphs on refreshable braille.
3. Use the Humanware videos that have been made to learn features on the Touch, including the graphing feature. They are now all found on YouTube.
4. Make sure you call tech support and either ask for help with issues you’re having or share your concerns and suggestions. One issue we have found is that in the refreshable braille version and embossed version of the graphic the line that is plotted is very thick. My student was unable to tell where the plotted line crossed the x or y axis as all of the dots jumbled together and it was not clear. We called tech support and he shared this concern with them. He requested that they make the axis lines and plotted lines thinner so that you can tell more accurately where the line is crossing.
5. Use an embossed tactile graphic version along with the refreshable braille version to understand the “whole picture”. As we all know students who are braille readers are only seeing part at a time and not the whole in one view like their sighted peers. This is even more so when they are reading refreshable braille one line at a time. This concept is still quite difficult for my student and one way we are working on learning to interpret the graphic on the refreshable braille is by having the matching embossed graphic next to him. We first look at the whole embossed graphic from top to bottom, then refer to the graphic on the refreshable braille. We will refer back to the embossed graphic one line at a time. You can also create a simplified version of the embossed graphic if it is also difficult for them to interpret in the beginning. Start with the rubber board and rubber bands or wikki stix or a braille graph paper version with a puff paint plotted line. Do whatever you need to do to aid your student in interpreting what they are feeling on the Touch.
6. Keep up with the updates. The great thing about the Touch is that like a standard Tablet updates are released often and are free. Make sure you are updating your Touch and make sure to check to see what new features are being released in the newest update.
7. And, last, but not least, be patient. Be patient with your student who is learning brand new technology and be patient with Humanware (or any technology company) as they learn from the users and work to improve the device and the software.
I can’t wait to see what happens next with technology for the blind!