an image of a refreshable braille displayIndex

This list of products is for reference purposes only and does not reflect endorsement by the ATRC.


Refreshable Braille Displays are electronic devices that are used to read text that a computer sends to the monitor. The device is connected to the computer by a serial cable and produces Braille output on the Braille display. Refreshable Braille displays only read one line of text at a time. These displays generally include directional keys which allow the user to navigate through a document. Larger displays (80 cells) also include a cursor routing function. Each cell contains eight small pins, allowing eight dot computer Braille rather than the six dot Braille we are used to seeing.

Some portable note takers that have refreshable Braille can also be used as a refreshable Braille display for a PC computer.

Points to ponder - Questions to consider when shopping for a refreshable Braille display

  • Is it compatible with your computer's platform?
  • How many Braille cells are active on the display?
  • Does it have its own power source?
  • Does it have extra keys that can be programmed with additional commands?

Refreshable Braille Displays

These products are true refreshable Braille displays. They connect to your computer and generally sit under a regular keyboard with the Braille cells nearest to you, along the front of the keyboard.

  • From Freedom Scientific Blind/Low Vision Group
    • PowerBraille displays : PowerBraille 40, PowerBraille 65 and the PowerBraille 8
    • The numbers after the product name indicate the number of Braille cells active; 80 cells would give the computer user one line of information on the computer screen - 40 and 65 would give partial lines [but the information wraps so you do eventually have access to all of it]
  • Braille Windows Display from Freedom of Speech inc.
    • Powerful tool with either an 85 cell desktop model or a 45 cell portable model
    • for use with Windows 95 or 3.x
  • Braille Voyager comes in two versions Voyageur 44 and Voyageur 70 (longer life) - has its own power, can be used independent of a screen reader, uses logical Braille keys, new Tieman Braille Cell Technology
  • ALVA Delphi Braille Terminals - there are two models available the first with 43 braille cells (Version 440) and the second with 85 (Version 480) braille cells. Both versions have eight-dot Braille cells.
  • ALVA Satellite Series - the battery operated model (ALVA Satellite 544) has 44 Braille cells
  • Handy Tech with web pages in German or English have the following Braille displays:
    • The Modular System - available in configurations for 85, 44 or 24 Braille cells and offers a unique and flexible approach to Braille displays
    • Braille Star 40 - specially designed to be used with a laptop computer, to operate the Reading Keys you do not have to move your hands from the display
    • Braille Wave - slim line Braille display with built-in note taker, weighs only 35 oz.
  • From F.H. Papenmeier GmbH & Co., Schwerte, Germany
    • Braillex EL2D 80- 80 cell Braille and 20 cell vertical display [providing feedback on your cursor, page breaks, etc], wide variety of OS use - DosDOTS Screen reader for DOS (optional for Windows 95/98, Windows NT, Linux, and OS/2), has either serial port or USB connection
    • Braillex EL 80 - 80 cells plus 2 status cells, serial port connection [not USB] - DosDOTS Screen reader for DOS (optional for Windows 95/98, Windows NT, Linux, and OS/2)
    • Other models include the Braillex EL 66, Braillex EL 40