I have watched a very nice video where I saw a girl use a Braille display. In the video she quickly shifts either the right hand or the left hand over the degradable keys.

I haven't watched it carefully, or perhaps I just don't remember proper, but it seems to me that one can either use one hand to navigate the entire length of the keys from beginning to end, and then press a key to refresh all of the keys, or, use one hand to read from start to a certain point, and then with the adjacent hand, place one finger next to the other and trace the rest of the display with the other hand.

I was wondering, would there be any use, in practice, to refreshing the Braille display only "partially"?

By this I mean, instead of the plastic pins going down and the new ones coming up for the entire next set of Braille letters, could you force, say, the right half of the Braille letters to sink and appear over the right half of the display, and new, succeeding keys, to appear on the right side of the display.

Would this be useful, say, if one wanted to read a particular set of contiguous keys on the display, deciding word boundaries, all at once?

Is this need, on behalf of done users, for reading everything together (e.g. The proof of a complex math theorem), the reason one would want an 80 key display as opposed to a 32 or other shorter length display?

If the display is X = 80 keys, can I advance the display by N = 8, 16, 24, 32, etc. number of keys at a time, or n, with a custom braille display key advance granularity of M = anywhere from 1 to 80?

For me, who has never touched a Braille display, it is a long standing issue I still fall to understand.

P.S. I know, on at least done Braille displays, there are the keys to the left and the to the right of the display keys. Not sure if these are left/right display shifting keys with a granularity of 1/3.

  • For a proper answer to that I'd suggest you talk to people who are actually use these devices. If you're in the UK you could try contacting the RNIB (rnib.org.uk) or whatever support organisation for visually impaired people is local to your part of the world. Sep 23, 2016 at 7:22
  • Thank you, the site was useful even though I do not live in the UK. Thanks. Sep 26, 2016 at 21:37

1 Answer 1


Surmounting the Braille Reading Speed Plateau - John Bailey

Use two hands. You can identify a Braille-reading pro by the way he or she uses two hands to move across the page. By using the index fingers of both the left and right hands simultaneously, a Braille reader can reduce the time it takes to read a passage of Braille text.

The trick here is to have at least one of the fingers of each hand moving across the dots at all times. While one finger finishes a line, the other index finger begins reading the next line; this means no pause between lines.

For example, at the top of a new page, both hands start at the top left side of the page. Together they move across the letters until they reach the middle. While the right hand continues across, the left hand moves down a line and orients itself at the beginning of that line. When the right hand is finished with the top line, the left hand immediately begins to read the second line. The right hand joins the left until they reach the middle of the second line of text. The left hand breaks off and orients itself to the beginning of the third line. This process continues to the bottom of the page. The whole process begins again on the next page.

The problem with the one-handed method of reading is that a pause takes place between lines because the reader has to slide the hand back across the page to the start of the next line. The two-handed method of reading eliminates this delay.

Braille-Reading Techniques - Wikipedia

Another study by Lowenfield & Abel shows that braille could be read "the fastest and best... by students who read using the index fingers of both hands." Another important reading skill emphasized in this study is to finish reading the end of a line with the right hand and to find the beginning of the next line with the left hand simultaneously.

More importantly from that same Wikipedia reference:

There are many different styles and techniques used for the understanding and development of braille, even though a study by B. F. Holland suggests that there is no specific technique that is superior to any other.

Not all Braille readers read using the same technique. So with a traditional two-handed Braille reader, splitting the cell display on the keyboard causes a lot of unnecessary complications, for individuals who read using one hand, it won't be beneficial. By doing this you are creating a situation where the user has to remember if the first half of the display is positioned before or after the second half of the display. You also lose any potential speed increase by increasing the amount of time the user has to spend locating the middle of the display, which also introduces the problem of knowing where one half of the display ends and the other begins. You also have to have a mechanism to change the next halves of the display, which you would have to do twice, instead of once on a typical Braille keyboard.

TL:DR: It's not a good solution. It's applicable only to two-handed readers, which all readers are not. It also creates usability problems as well as reduces reading speed.

  • What is TL:DR and what do these letters stand for? I'm just about to check out the links. Sep 26, 2016 at 22:25
  • I don't fully understand. Is a "page", the physical page corresponding to the length of the display keys, or is it the logical page corresponding to the page of a book downloaded from the Internet? Thanks. Sep 26, 2016 at 22:27
  • @JackMaddington TL:DR stands for "Too Long: Didn't Read", which is a short summary of something, in this case it's a summary of my answer. The context of the word "page" is used as in the physical page.
    – Tory
    Sep 26, 2016 at 22:32
  • So you can't scroll half a page because it's not a good solution. You can only scroll by a full page at a time? And that is the most efficient way, especially when using two fingers? Sep 26, 2016 at 22:34
  • 1
    @JackMaddington The word page in the the quoted text in my answer is referring to the physical page. So when it says across the page it means horizontally traversing the page. When you say most efficient way, what do you mean? Fastest reading speed? The first quoted block in my answer details the fastest method of reading via two-hands.
    – Tory
    Sep 26, 2016 at 22:50

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.