Duxbury or Perky Duck - Help me design some Braille software

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

What are Duxbury and Perky Duck? What do they do? Do they run on Mac OS? If not, is there any equivalent software that does run on Mac OS?

Details: I'm in the process of learning Braille through a Hadley course. I'm also a retired computer programmer. In correspondence with the Braille course instructor, I mentioned I was going to write a piece of software that translated between Braille and text. Me and my big mouth, right? Now, the instructor has mentioned to me that many of Hadley's students would like something like Duxbury or Perky Duck on their Mac, and maybe I could write my software to fill that need. So I'm posting here to find out more about what I just got myself into. Or, ideally, maybe someone here will post about some software that does pretty much the same thing?

My instructor specifically mentioned 6-key entry for the Braille codes as a requirement. I would assume that means something like using the num pad 7 4 1 8 5 2 keys for Braille dots 1-6.

Help a Braille newbie out! Thanks! And, in return, if my software ever amounts to anything, I pledge to make it available for free or super-cheap on the app store or downloadable from somewhere public. And I'll blog about it here at AppleVis.com, too. Just don't hold your breath. It could take me a while to put this together.


#1 DBT for Mac

Yes, Duxbury for Mac does exist. It translates printed documents to braille and can also do reverse translation. You can learn more about DBT (Duxbury Braille Translator) for Mac at:
Hope this is helpful.

#2 The things I know of

Duxbury has recently releast a Mac version. I was one of the beta test participants. It had some issues with Voiceover but worked well enough to do the job until the final version was released. The cursor navigation was completely broken. I’ve been using the last beta. It also costs $595. I recently downloaded Braille Blaster, free from APH, but haven’t had much luck with it so far. It’s primary purpose is textbook creation from a specialized format, but it will take in text files that you can then apply formatting to. It crashed for me the first time I tried to use it and I haven’t had time to try it again. Others may be able to provide more data. All that to say, if a capable braille translator for the Mac was to come along, I might gladly pay for it, my lost $600 notwithstanding.

#3 Thanks for the info

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

The info regarding Duxbury DBT for Mac is very helpful, and I'll pass that on to my Hadley instructor. Thanks!

I'm still planning to put some software together - I think it will help galvanize the rules of UEB in my head if I write a piece of computer software that follows those rules.

Are there any app developers around who might be able to comment on how my software might drive a Braille printer? I'm no where near writing that kind of code yet, but it would be valuable to plan in advance.

Thanks again for the info.

#4 Old school ...

I used to be a Braille transcriber for RNIB, pre Duxbury and pre-Perky Duck days (who dreamt up that name?!!!) We learnt to 'chord' Braille using six keys on a computer keyboard in software called ChiWriter. But it wasn't the number keys, that woudl be too cramped for your hands - we used SDF&JKL across the middle of the keyboard. This replicated the layout of a Perkins brailler.

F&J are dots 1&4 (the top row of dots = your index fingers)
D&K are dots 2&5 (the middle row of dots = your second fingers)
S&L are dots 3&6 (the bottom row of dots = your ring fingers)

So to get a letter D in Braille (dots 1-4-5) you'd press down on F-J-K on the keyboard at the same time.

I have no idea whether Perky Duck works the same way (I'm not curious enough to download it in Windows to try) but I'd be surprised if they've changed the basic premise.

Hope that helps!

#6 Thanks

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

Thanks! My Braille instructor just told me about this recently.