The mobile market has exploded within the past few years and has really changed the way blind people work and play. With a big enfises on iOS devices like the iPhone and the iPad, many people are wondering if dedicated devices for the blind are even relevant anymore. When I say dedicated devices I mean anything from GPS devices to note taking devices with braille displays attached. In this article I want to give you my opinion on why I still choose to use a dedicated device. Let me clarify one thing really fast from the beginning. I use and own an iPhone and iPad. I also have a braille note apex from Humanware that I carry with me all the time. Now that we got that out of the way let's hit the main topic. Why I still choose to use a dedicated note taking device. I remember getting introduced to the braille n speak in middle school and not understanding why the device existed. I used it all through middle school but never really felt the need to use it beyond a educational setting. During my sevennth grade year I was transfered to a school for the blind in kentucky. Along with getting a better social life than I had in public school I was introduced to a lot of the latest in blindness technology that I never knew existed. The first time I held the braille note classic I fell in love with the crisp braille cells that felt like actual braille paper to me and the sturdiness of the device. I was still unsure of what the device could do for me beyond school, but I gave this new device a chance. After using it for only a week I carried it with me where ever I went. I was even given permission to use the braille note classic over the summer. Before GPS was around I used the braille note to create a little book of instructions for my O&M classes. I used the braille note in english class to work on papers. I used every aspect of the braille note from the address book to the book reader. I even used in for presentations and for teaching the braille note to other students at the school. As the software improved and the braille note got faster and even more powerful I gained a better understanding of what the device was capable of doing. Ok, so now that you know what I used the braille note for back then, what about now, when the world of technology is filled not only dedicated devices but mainstream devices like android phones and iOS devices. I still think there is a place for the devices. Being in college I have a busy lifestyle. Keeping up with class assignments, logging notes and sessions with my sound engineering classes, to learning how to read braille music it can get pretty hectic. I find the braille note a very useful tool even though my phone is right by my side. You may be wondering what can the braille note do that your phone can't? There are a lot of reasons to have a dedicated device. 1. software that just works. With mobile devices apps and the system software get updated all the time. If you are not careful or the manufacturer of the phone you own breaks something that was working but now isn't you are stuck with that inaccessible part of your phone until it's fixed. 2. keystrokes are quicker Flicking and learning the layout of your phone are essentail in learning a mainstream product but if you are trying to be productive flicking to a button or trying to find a control by moving your finger across the screen just wastes time. With a few key strookes I can jump in and out of apps on the braille note and not have to worry about if I found the right control or button. 3. right where you left off. With dedicated note taking devices you can shut off the device without having to leave what you were working on and the device will remember what you were last doing and put you back in that spot. 5. battery life Battery life on the braille note is better than on my iPhone any day of the week. I do have an external battery pack but even with that the braille note still beats it. Ok, some valid points were made but what about traditional braille displays versus note takers? I'm glad you asked. With a braille display you can only use it if it's connected to your computer or your smartphone basically rendering it useless without a connected device. Whereas with a dedicated note taker you can be productive with your smartphone as well while writing a report for instance. This functionality makes dedicated note taking devices like the braille note apex from Humanware in my opinion a win win situation for someone who wants functionality with the mainstream and blindness technology at the same time.
I have the BrailleNote mPower and will soon finally be upgrading to the Apex. I look forward to being able to use it with my iPhone. Thanks so much for your article and the other resources you gave. Very helpful!