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I have a very simple question concerning Braille displays. I have never used such a device, but am curious.

Do users of Braille displays get sore fingers as a result of repeated touching and stroking the Braille pins, as, as I understand it, these slide under the fingertips of the display?

How long can you keep on using the display before the fingers get sore?

I guess the level of soreness, (if any?), would depend on how well the device was built.

Maybe if the pins were oriented inwards rather than outwards the touch would be more comfortable. This sends illogical to me though, someone would already have dive that.

I am particularly interested in what blind users would have to say here.

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I am totally blind. I can read with a braille display for 8_12 or more hours at a time even more. I learned braille when I was 3 years old. Braille to me, is like reading and writing print or cursive, for people who can see... It is just another alphabet that is all. Uncontracted braille that is where all words are spelled out can take as little as 2 to 3 hours to learn and become proficient with it maybe a week or so. Think of learning braille like learning the Greek or Russian cerrilic alphabet. Its just another alphabet another way of reading and writing that is all. And by the way the orbit reader 20 $499 low-cost braille display device will be out in less than a month! I cannot wait to buy one!

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    I think only the first 1-2 sentences are relevant here (althought the rest are interesting). Also I'm not entirely sure if it answers the question. You can read braille for 8-12 hours but do you get sore? You compare it to reading/writing for sighted people but I for one cannot read or write for 8 hours without my hands/eyes getting sore. – DasBeasto Sep 21 '16 at 14:24
  • Josh, what are your favorite surfaces for the pins on Braille displays? I one felt the Braille on some elevator keys. They were made out of metal. Not every nice, especially since one of my hands is sensitive to heat due to a burn with a hot boiling water pot left over a stove I one underwent. I'm sure you'll understand. Nevertheless, comfort is really key here, when using any kind of input hardware. Well see how the orbit reader 20 does in comparison to the Humanware Braillant B 80 (NEW generation) Braille display? Any ideas? – Jack Maddington Sep 22 '16 at 9:44
  • How about the comfort of the keys on the the input face (and the ones on the side of, and on the vertical surface beneath, the degradable area of the displays)? How does this kind of comfort vary from device to device, and how would you describe it? – Jack Maddington Sep 22 '16 at 9:46
  • Does the Orbit Reader 20 work with Android? In your experience, how does the number of braille keys on the display affect the usability/user experience of the device. Sorry if these questions exceed the purpose of my original post, but I am very curious. On large screens, the extra screen width may not name a difference if you cannot shift your eyes around to the left or right quickly. Likewise, if you are a kid and/or your arms are shorter, ot your arm movement is slow, would you still benefit from the extra length of the refreshable Braille keys? – Jack Maddington Sep 22 '16 at 9:47
  • You might find it interesting, that I thought the keys and not the hands and fingers were the actual ones to move back and forth. But was I wrong. (And I don't think anyone who can move their hand cannot move their arm, that would be a weird combination). – Jack Maddington Sep 22 '16 at 9:53
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I can't speak directly to the braille issue, but let me take a shot at an analogy, from the perspective of a musician.

When people begin playing guitar, not only can't they properly "sense" what they are doing, but their fingers get tired and calloused easily. It can be a tough and discouraging time, as strength is building and sensitivity increasing, but the fingers are getting used to the strain and abuse they need to take as the player improves. Many people abandon their efforts during this phase, unless they are very motivated.

However, the fingers DO gain callouses and a "toughness" that makes playing for longer and longer more doable. And despite the "toughening" of the fingers, players also gain a level of nuance and sensitivity that comes, in part, from being BETTER able to sense their instrument through their fingertips.

Braille is obviously quite a different thing; I would suspect that it is at least as difficult to learn, requiring even greater nuance and sensitivity, but that the practitioners are, on the whole, probably more motivated to do well and gain proficiency. I would suspect that, as with a guitar, while a certain amount of "toughness" goes along with the constant practice, a new level of nuance and sensitivity is also attained.

However, as I said, I am NOT your target user, so I will also be interested to learn what sight-impaired people have to say on the subject!

  • So, as the calluses develop, they are able to feel better and use the device for longer periods of time. As to motivation, I guess on modern times one could weigh the advantages of voice (which has many shades and tones and moods, and is not tired to a concrete language-dependent spelling), versus the discrete and impersonal character of Braille (or any alphabetic alphabet) letters. I have no idea of how fast or slow one gains sensitivity in Braille, or what the learning curve looks like. I am interested in more perspectives though. – Jack Maddington Sep 17 '16 at 9:08
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    Honestly, I don't expect that the mechanisms of Braille are nearly as hard on the fingertips as guitar strings, nor would they be used as actively, so I imagine it would take a very long time to beat on one's fingers enough that they actually developed callouses. It's far from a perfect analogy. But again, this is really guesswork on my part. – Mattynabib Sep 17 '16 at 12:28
  • Well, good guesswork, but I really would like to hear from some blind users.Why do you say that the mechanisms of Braille would not be used as actively? Are you saying, that because of voice output and on-screen navigation using touchscreen gestures, and voice input, that the actual Braille display on Braille devices is not used as much on modern times other than four spelling purposes? I realize you might not have experience with this, but someone else might.Thanks. – Jack Maddington Sep 17 '16 at 16:19
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    No by "actively" I meant sheer force of the fingers on the mechanism. I might expect that someone reading an exciting passage fast might experience increased stress on their fingers, and maybe abrasions... But also that that physical impact would be pretty small compared to the sheer finger-force necessary to fret guitar strings for a hour or more straight. Again, I was just trying to provide kind of thought exercise and discussion point, since no one had responded to your query! – Mattynabib Sep 18 '16 at 13:31
  • So, I guess the issue remains open. Thank you for your contribution. – Jack Maddington Sep 19 '16 at 17:56

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