Refreshing Refreshable Braille Displays

Alexander Russomanno, Sile O'Modhrain, R. Brent Gillespie, Matthew W. M. Rodger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


The increased access to books afforded to blind people via e-publishing has given them long-sought independence for both recreational and educational reading. In most cases, blind readers access materials using speech output. For some content such as highly technical texts, music, and graphics, speech is not an appropriate access modality as it does not promote deep understanding. Therefore blind braille readers often prefer electronic braille displays. But these are prohibitively expensive. The search is on, therefore, for a low-cost refreshable display that would go beyond current technologies and deliver graphical content as well as text. And many solutions have been proposed, some of which reduce costs by restricting the number of characters that can be displayed, even down to a single braille cell. In this paper, we demonstrate that restricting tactile cues during braille reading leads to poorer performance in a letter recognition task. In particular, we show that lack of sliding contact between the fingertip and the braille reading surface results in more errors and that the number of errors increases as a function of presentation speed. These findings suggest that single cell displays which do not incorporate sliding contact are likely to be less effective for braille reading.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Transactions on Haptics
Issue number3
Early online date15 Apr 2015
Publication statusPublished - 17 Sep 2015


  • Refreshable braille displays
  • shape displays
  • braille reading
  • sliding contact
  • proprioception


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