Braille Low-Cost Technology : Orbit Reader 20
The Orbit Reader 20, a low-cost electronic refreshable Braille display also serving as Braille Note Taker is the long awaited breakthrough Braille technology of this century. As compared to the previously existing similar devices; the Orbit Reader 20 is an affordable technology which finally puts an end to the financial constrains which made it so difficult (if not impossible) for every visually impaired child to access to such a device for their education. In fact, the affordability of the Orbit Reader 20 has been the fruit of the vision of Mr. Kevin Carey, the previous Chairperson of the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) who in 2009 set the target of leading a global initiative of reducing the expensive cost of refreshable Braille displays by 90% as he so announced at the Leipzig Braille 21 Conference in September 2011.
Soon, the World Blind Union, the DAISY Consortium and the World Braille Council were consulted on the subject matter and organisations for the blind around the world were invited to embark and partner with RNIB on this incredible project. After consideration of several potential manufacturers of the low-cost refreshable Braille display; the manufacture of the device was attributed to Orbit Research. It is under the entity of the Transforming Braille Group (TBG) th at the low-cost electronic Braille device known as the Orbit reader 20 was designed, produced and launched in 2017.
The Orbit Reader 20 is indeed a unique 3-in-1 device which serves as a self-contained book reader, a note taker and as a refreshable Braille display when connected to a computer or smartphone via USB or Bluetooth. As a refreshable Braille display, the device works with all platforms including Windows, Mac OS, iOS and Android, to provide access to all the features of these platforms using popular screen reader programs. It enables access to all applications, such as email, web-browsing, text messaging, creating and editing documents, etc. Though feature-rich, the device is extremely simple to use and allows switching between the different functions simultaneously.
In addition to the braille cells, the Orbit Reader 20 also includes a high-quality, 8-key keyboard, a cursor pad and rocker keys for navigation and panning, and an SD-card slot for loading books and files for reading and editing in a standalone mode. It is fluid and dust resistant and its construction is optimized for durability in extreme environmental conditions.
The revolutionary affordable Orbit Reader 20 made its entry in Africa last year through the collaboration between GRF and the University of Mauritius for the setting-up of a disabled-friendly Study Corner aiming at easing the inclusion of students with disabilities on campus. This Study Corner which space is being designed with the required features of physical accessibility to meet the special needs of all types of disabilities is also being equipped with assistive devices to provide students with print disabilities with reading facility. In this context, 2 units of the Orbit Reader 20 have been purchased by the UOM Convocation under the umbrella of GRF who established contact with the manufacturing company, namely Orbit Research. The Orbit Reader 20 is now in Mauritius and is already changing the lives of its users!