Where to find a braille display for less than the cost of an iPhone

From Technology Tips


Hello, and welcome to another Tech Tip, my name is Seth Leblond and I am the Assistive Technology Coordinator at Foundation for Blind Children.

Today I want to talk about a really cool braille display that I have actually just acquired for myself.

Throughout my career I have been surrounded by lots of technology and among that technology has been a whole host of different kinds of braille displays. Historically, braille displays have been incredibly expensive, however, some are $2,000-3,000, there’s a class of braille displays in that $3-4,000 range, and there are a whole bunch of braille displays that are available for purchase for more than $4,000. But unless you’re a rehab client, or you are independently wealthy, or you happen to be a student of a school district that can afford this kind of technology, braille displays can be out of reach for most folks no matter how much they love braille.

I recently got my hands on a braille display called the Orbit Reader.

The Orbit Reader is made by a company called the Orbit Research; this braille display is for around $700. The Orbit Reader has brought braille displays into a more affordable price range for consumers.

This Orbit Reader [holds up hand-held device] is an Orbit Reader 20 plus.

I want to talk a little about what that means:

  • This has 20 refreshable Braille cells, so when you press keys on the braille display, the braille changes

Additional Options:

  • 40 Cell Orbit Reader which is about 2x as big as this one [the Orbit Reader 20 Plus].
  • Orbit Reader 20 Plus also has some standalone features
    • basic text editor
    • onboard braille translation-when you create and save a text file even if you type in contracted braille, it will be displayed as regular text if someone else opens that file on a computer
    • calculator
    • alarm clock
    • appointment calendar
  • Orbit Reader 20 is a standalone braille display, you can connect the phone to
    • smartphones
    • tablets
    • laptop/computers

The Braille display itself provides incredibly “unique signage quality braille”, or high-quality braille, and as someone who has been reading braille since age 3, I can tell you that that is absolutely true.

How to Use the Orbit Reader 20 Plus Braille Display:

To activate the menu, press these buttons:

the select buttons + the up arrow = access to all of the settings in the display

For just $50 more on the Orbit Reader, you will gain access to an assortment of helpful features, some of which include being able to…

  • discover the battery percentage life of the device
  • use arrow controls to move throughout the menu
  • adjust cursor blink rate
  • adjust different features that allow you to connect to your phone, tablet, or laptop/computer
  • access braille translation settings for the onboard features of this product
  • load books onto through use of the SD card

Bottom Line: This braille display is compact, has very high-quality braille, intriguing standalone options, excellent connectivity to computer, smartphones, and tables, and is available for only a fraction of the cost of conventional braille displays.

That’s not to say that other Braille displays aren’t wonderful options, some have better features, and most are a lot quieter, but the Orbit Reader is absolutely the best value for money available on the braille display market today.

For more information on the Orbit Reader or any of Orbit Research’s products, go to orbitresearch.com and check out what they have to offer!

I hope you found this interesting, and we’ll be back again soon with another tech tip.