Braille, signed braille. Braille is a tactual representation of written language.  A braille cell, which represents one character, is comprised of six raised dots.  Various combinations of these 6 dots represent different characters.  Each dot is assigned a number. They are arranged in two vertical columns. Dots 1, 2, and 3 on the left and 4, 5 and 6 on the right.  For example, dot 1 is A, dot 1 and 2 is B.  It should be noted that braille is not a language, but rather a code representing written language. [End of Transcript]

Braille Display

Braille Display (signed as “Braille Display”). A braille display is an adaptive piece of technology that uses refreshable braille.  It allows braille users to interface with computers, tablets, mobile devices and other electronics.  Screen readers and other third-party programs convert visual information into braille that can be read on the braille displays.  Users are able to navigate the screen using the braille display.  There are a host of different models.  A few examples are: Easy Braille, signed Easy Braille, ESYS, fingerspelled ESYS, Focus Blue, fingerspelled FOCUS and signed Blue. Perkins product braille display signed Perkins Braille Display, Perkins mini, signed Perkins fingerspelled Mini, Braille Edge, fingerspelled braille edge, Brailliant, fingerspelled Braillian BI.  In addition to the various models, there are various sizes.  The two-digit number at the end of the model represents the number of cells on the braille display.  For example there are 18-, 40- and 80-cell braille displays.  For example the Braille Note Apex 18 has 18 cells.    

Cursor Routing Button, signed CRB. The cursor routing buttons are located on the braille display at the top of each braille cell.  It is used to control the cursor.  By pressing the CRB above the braille cell, the cursor will jump to that location.  It can also be used to similar to how one clicks on a mouse. If for example, you are reading an email with a hyperlink, you can use the CRB to “click” the link. [End of Transcript]

Braille Notetakers

Braille Notetakers, signed  BN.  Braille Notetakes are similar to personal digital assistants (PDAs), or, smart phones.  Notetakers are all in one devices,  including functions such as email, instant messaging, internet browsers, calendar, and GPS.  They do not have built in cellular capability.  It’s important to mention that each notetaker runs on its own proprietary operating system.  There are several manufacturers and models available.  For example, the BrailleNote Apex, signed BN Apex.  This notetaker comes in two sizes, 18 and 32 cells.  Each size is available in two models; one with a braille keyboard and one with a QWERTY keyboard.  All four models can connect to a LCD display via a VGA port.  This feature is useful for individuals who are not familiar with braille to be able to access what’s on the notetaker.  Another braille notetaker is the Braille Sense U2. The first model has a 32 cell display with a braille keyboard.  It also has a built in mini LCD display. In addition to the built in mini LCD display, it can be connected to a larger, external monitor.  The Braille Sense U2 has all of the same capabilities as the Braillenote Apex.  The 32-cell model with a QWERTY keyboard does not have a built in visual display.  This device requires a separately purchased USB based visual display, or, you have the option to connect to an external monitor via a VGA port.  One thing that sets the Braille Sense U2 apart from the Apex is its ability to provide the user with vibrating alerts. [End of Transcript]

Braille View

Braille view (signed Braille – fingespelled VIEW) or Braille View) is a feature that allows sighted individuals to see a visual representation of braille on the screen.  One example of how this feature can be useful is a teacher and student working together.  The teacher can follow along with what the student is doing on their braille display without interrupting them.  (Graphic: screen shot of visual braille.) [End of Transcript]

Computer: Desktop

Desktop Computers, signed desktop.  There are two main categories of desktop computers: PCs and Apple.  PCs are manufactured by a number of different companies including HP and Dell.  Apple, another manufacturer, has its own desktop product line, including the Mac Pro, which is characterized by its unique black tower; the iMac, where the monitor is built into the computer; and the Mac Mini, which is a small desktop computer sold without a monitor.

What differentiates desktops from laptops is portability.  Desktops are designed to be stationary.  Most have external monitors, but some, like the iMac have built in screens.  All have ports for connecting USB devices, such as, a keyboard and mouse.  The point being, desktops are designed to be stationary. [End of Transcript]

Computer: Laptop

Laptops, signed laptops.  There are two general categories that laptops fall into.  They are differentiated by their operating systems.  PCs are generally run on windows based operating systems, and Apple laptops are run on OSx, the Apple operating system.  PCs are manufactured by many different companies, but they all pretty much function in the same way.  Here are a few prominent manufacturers, Acer, Lenovo, Dell and HP.  Keep in mind this list is not exhaustive.

Apple, who is the sole manufacturer of their product line, has a number of laptops to choose from.  First being the MacBook Pro, this is full size laptop that has a CD/DVD drive.  The MacBook Air is a sleek, lightweight laptop.  It does not have a CD/DVD drive and is less powerful than the MacBook Pro. [End of Transcript]

Computer Screen

Computer Screen, signed Computer Screen. Here are some of the visual aspects of computer screens.  For PCs the taskbar is located on the bottom of the screen.  It’s what allows you to launch and monitor running programs.  It also displays the time, wifi connectivity status and various other information.  For Macs, the dock, located at the bottom of the screen is a way to quickly access applications.  Shared by both Macs and PCs, toolbars, which are unique to programs, provide quick access to functions.  For example if you open a Word document, the bar containing File, Edit and View is the toolbar.  As you navigate the screen using a mouse or trackpad, the black arrow that appears on the screen is called the pointer.  As you’re typing in a Word document, the flashing vertical bar that indicates where you are on the page is called the cursor.  An edit field is a text box where the user can enter information.  A form field contains a pre-populated drop down menu.  Let’s say you were signing up for something or entering to win a prize, the fields where you type in your name are edit fields, and the field where you select your state is a form field. [End of Transcript]


Gestures, fingerspelled Gestures.  Gestures are a unique feature of Apple products.  They can be used with iDevices and Apple computers alike.  Apple created a set of commands called gestures to interact with their products.  If using a computer, the gesture is done on the trackpad.  If using iDevices, the gesture is performed on the touch screen.  Here is an overview of selected gestures:

First is Pinch, signed pinch.  Pinch is used to zoom in/out.  This is done with the thumb and the index finger in a pinching motion.  Bringing them together and pulling them apart.  This gesture applies to both the trackpad and the iDevice.  Another gesture, rotor, signed rotor. This is done with the thumb and fore finger on the track pad or device moved in turning motion.

The following four gestures can be used with 1,2,3 or 4 fingers.

The first one Swipe, signed swipe, performed slowly and smoothly, remember you can use 1, 2, 3 or 4 fingers.  Flick, and the sign is flick.  Flicks are the same as swipes but faster.  Remember you can flick or swipe with one or multiple fingers and in multiple directions to perform different commands.  Next we have the two-finger tap.  The name can be misleading as you can tap with one or multiple fingers.  Simply tap your finger or fingers on the trackpad or iDevice and lift up. The final gesture we’ll go over is drag.  To drag, place your finger or fingers on the track pad and slide them around.  Make sure to not lift up until you are done performing the command. 

While there are more, these are the gestures we’ll be going over. [End of Transcript]


Google, signed Google.  Google is a web based search engine that allows people to look up information on almost anything.  Google also has its own email client, Gmail, and a range of other tools and applications, such as Google Drive and Google calendar. [End of Transcript]

Instant Messaging

Instant messaging, signed “IM”.  Instant messaging is a type of online chat, which offers real-time text transmission over the Internet.  Two participants using the same application can have an instantaneous text-based conversation.  Most applications allow you to save your friends in a “buddy list” so that you can easily connect with them. Some of the most popular applications out there are AOL Instant Messenger, Signed AOL IM and Google Talk. [End of Transcript]


Interact, signed interact.  We all interact with devices every day; we just don’t typically call it that. In this context, the word interact refers to how one communicates with a device, be it a laptop, desktop or mobile device.  There are different ways of interacting with PCs and Apple products. If for example on a PC one types in, control-O, that tells the computer to open an existing file.  That is a way of “interacting.” 

Macs, similar to PCs have their own keyboard commands, but there is an additional way of interacting with their products called gestures.  Gestures are Apple’s way of making it easier to interact with their devices.  Gestures are performed either on the trackpad or on the screen of the iDevice.  For example, the standard one-finger swipe on an iDevice allows one to unlock and begin using the phone.  Many of you are already familiar with gestures; you just might not have known that’s how you “interacted” with your device. [End of Transcript]

Internet Relay

Internet Relay, signed Internet Relay or Internet Relay. With current advances in technology it is now easier than ever for deaf-blind, Deaf and hard of hearing people to access telecommunications.  There are two main ways to access internet relay, text-based and video-based.  Text based is referred as IP relay and video based is referred as Video Relay Service, or VRS.

Individuals can access IP relay from their smart phone, notetaker or computer.  Users have the option to connect to an IP relay operator via an app, on the web or through an instant messaging program.  After the number is dialed and the call is connected, the operator verbally relays information being typed by the text user, and types information being spoken by the other party.  Here are a few companies that provide IP relay services, IP Relay, i711, and Sprint IP relay.

Video Relay Service has come a long way.  In the not too recent past, videophones were stand-alone stationary equipment.  Now, however, users can access VRS services on the go, via an app or software installed on their computer.  VRS is a service that provides ASL/English interpreters to interpret phone calls between signers and non-signers.  All either party has to do is dial the number of person they wish to call and an interpreter will interpret their call.  This allows for communication 24/7.  Here are a few VRS providers: ZVRS; Purple Communications (signed “Purple”); Sorenson (signed “Sorenson”); and Convo (fingerspelled CONVO). [End of Transcript]


There are two keyboards this video will cover.  The first is a standard QWERTY keyboard.  Signed QWERTY “QT” or signed keyboard. It can have a numeric pad, signed num pad, on the right hand side. The second is a braille keyboard, signed braille keyboard.  Both keyboards provide the same function; it all comes down to user preference. [End of Transcript]

Keyboard Keys

Keyboard keys keyboard signed keyboard. In this video, I’ll be describing the layout as well as important function keys.  Some of the keys have designated signs, while others are just fingerspelled.

        Alt, fingerspelled “ALT”

        Backslash, signed backslash

        Backspace, signed backspace

        Command, signed command

        Control, there are two options, signed Control or fingerspelled “CTRL”

        Delete, signed delete

        Escape, signed escape or fingerspelled “ESC”

        Enter, there are two options, signed enter or enter

        Function key, this is not the row of F keys found at the top of a keyboard, this key is found on the bottom row and is designated FN, fingerspelled FN

        F Keys, these are the numbered keys found at the top of keyboard, F1-F12, Signed F plus the number.

        Insert, fingerspelled insert

        Option, signed option or option

        Shift, fingerspelled shift

        Tab, fingerspelled tab

        Arrow Keys, signed arrow keys, or fingerspelled arrow plus directional sign

The purpose behind covering these keys is that sometimes one is required to press multiple keys simultaneously.  For example: control, alt, delete. [End of Transcript]

Mobile Devices

Mobile Devices

Mobile devices, signed mobile. When it comes to mobile devices there are three main operating systems that phones run on.  The first is android, which was developed by Google.  Second, Windows Phones run on a mobile version of the windows operating system, which was developed by Microsoft.  Different phone manufacturers and companies choose to install different operating systems on their phones. 

Apple products run on iOS, their mobile operating system.  Apple manufactures the iPhone, signed iPhone, or i4, i5, and who knows maybe soon i6 AND the iPod touch signed IPOD Touch. [End of Transcript]

National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program (NDBEDP)

National Deaf Blind Equipment Distribution Program, signed NDBEDP.  The FCC allocated funding for telecommunication equipment and for training on the equipment provided.  This money can only be used for those two purposes.  Realizing there were not enough qualified technology trainers, Helen Keller National Center applied for and received a grant from the Lavelle Fund.  The grant is aimed at increasing the pool of qualified trainers throughout the country. [End of Transcript]

Operating System

Operating System, signed OS.  This video will discuss several of the most popular operating systems. To get started, let’s talk about iDevices. All iDevices, including iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches use the mobile version of Apple’s operating system, called iOS.  Apple’s non mobile line, including their computers and laptops use an operating system called OSx.  Apple has created multiple versions of their operating system, and usually the operating system is referred to by its version name. The current version is called Mountain Lion, but Apple will soon release the next version called Mavericks.

Microsoft has also created multiple versions of its operating system called Windows.  For example, Windows RT, is its mobile operating system for tablets such as the Surface.  The most current version for PCs is Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro. Another operating system you might be familiar with is Linux.  This operating system is generally not used on home or personal computers.  Rather, Linux is typically found in large companies and multi-national corporations.  The benefit of using a Linux operating system is its flexibility.  Linux is what’s called an open-source code, meaning anyone, and everyone, has the right to make modifications to the code to suit their needs.  It should be noted that Android phones run on a Linux based platform. [End of Transcript]

Ports and Connectors

Ports and connectors, fingerspelled.  Ports and connectors are specialized outlets on laptops and computers.  They allow the computer to be connected to various auxiliary devices.  This video will cover some of the most common types of ports and connectors, starting with a USB port.  The USB port has many purposes.  One can insert a USB flashdrive and transfer files from the computer to the drive and then pull up the same files on a different computer.

The mini DVI port is unique to apple computers. With the use of a dongle, this port can become a VGA port, enabling the computer to be connected to an external monitor or projector. The Ethernet port allows for a wired connection to the internet. VGA ports allow for computers to be connected to external monitors and projectors. The lightening connector is again, unique to apple’s mobile devices.  The lightening connector can be used to charge apple products as well as connect them to a VGA port.  Dongles are specialized connectors that alter the ports functionality. For example, it turns the lightning connector into a VGA output. [End of Transcript]


Printers, signed printers. Braille embossers are specialized printers that allow one to print in Braille. There are two signs, Braille Embosser and Braille Embosser.   There are generally three options for printing in braille: single sheet, double sided, and braille and printed text.  Single sheet means that braille is printed only on one side of the paper. Double sided, means that braille is printed on both sides of the sheet.  There is also an option to have braille and text printed on the sheet. [End of Transcript]

Screen Magnification

Screen Magnification Program, signed screen magnification.

There are numerous screen magnification programs.  Conveniently, some programs are built directly into the computers operating system – so there is no need to purchase additional software – while other screen magnification programs are built by third-party vendors and can be purchased and installed at any time.

Apple products, including their computers, both laptops and desktops, and iDevices , including the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, all have Zoom, their screen magnification program, built in. After enabling this feature, users can easily adjust the magnification of the screen. Windows’ newest operating system also has a built in screen magnification program.  Each magnification program offers its own unique features. There are also several third party vendors that create screen magnification software.  Zoomtext, for example, creates a version for both PC and Mac.  Magic, offers a screen magnification compatible with Windows operating system. The third-party applications offer enhanced features and individual customizations that the built in programs do not offer.  They typically have cursor enhancements, mouse tracking and other advanced features. [End of Transcript]

Screen Readers

Screen readers, signed screen readers. Screen readers are assistive technology software applications.  Screen readers attempt to take information on the screen, be it a computer, tablet or phone, and convert it to speech or into braille.  Once the screen reader is turned on, or activated, it begins to convert visual information being displayed on the screen into speech or into braille.  This allows users to access the device in the manner most accessible to them.

There are a host of programs available to you. Brailleback, for example, is an app that acts as a screen reader for all phones and tablets that run on an Android operating system.  There are several programs that are compatible with Windows operating systems. They are JAWS, Window Eyes (signed Window Eyes) and NVDA.

If you are using an Apple product, the screen reader is already built into the device.  Apple’s screen reader is called VoiceOver, signed VO.  Voice Over simply has to be turned on and will automatically convert visual information into speech or braille. [End of Transcript]

Shortcut Keys for Braille

Shortcut keys for braille, signed shortcut keys for braille .Similar to shortcut keys for your computer, braille displays and notetakers also have their own short cut keys.  Shortcut keys allow the user to perform a number of commands. These commands allow the user to easily navigate the computer, mobile device or notetaker.  These shortcuts are called chords.  Chords are a combination of dots and the space bar.  For example, dot 1 and 3 with the space bar will advance to the next item.  Dot 1/3 with the space bar is called a chord. Shortcut Keys, hot keys and keyboard commands all refer to the same action.  Depending on the operating system, the shortcut or keyboard command will be different. For example, on a PC, the command “Control C” will copy what is selected.  On a Mac, “Command C” will copy what is selected. Please refer to your operating system manual for applicable short cut keys. [End of Transcript]

Storage of Electronic Information

Storage, signed Storage.  We’ll cover two types of storage.  Tangible devices and virtual storage.  In terms of tangible devices, USB drives are prevalent.  They go by many names including, USB, thumbdrive and flashdrive.  They all refer to the small rectangular drive that plugs into the computer’s USB port.  Files can be transferred onto the drive and subsequently transferred onto another computer. An SD card is another option for physical storage.  SD cards are memory cards and can be found in many devices, including braille notetakers.

In terms of virtual storage, there are three services that have led the way, iCloud, Dropbox, and SkyDrive.  Virtual storage allows you to take data and information that is typically stored on your device, be it a laptop, tablet or smart phone, and upload it to an off-site data center.  The information can be retrieved in instant with a click of a button. This allows one to free up space on the device itself. [End of Transcript]


Tablet, signed Tablet. The easiest way to describe a tablet is to think of it as a laptop without the attached keyboard.  Tablets are portable and utilize touch-screen technology.  Generally speaking, there are tablets that use a Windows-based operating system and those that use iOS, Apple’s mobile operating system.

The two most common tablets that run on the Windows operating system are the Surface, and Surface Pro, which offers more enhanced features than the Surface.  Surface is signed, surface.  Apple has a multigenerational product that they call, iPad.  There are several different signs used for ipad. They are, ipad, ipad, ipad. [End of Transcript]

Trainer the Trainer

Train the Trainers Seminar signed as TTT. The purpose of the Train the Trainers seminar is to increase the pool of qualified trainers.  Helen Keller National Center hosts participants from around the nation.  They are educated on technology as well as specific teaching strategies used when working with deaf-blind[KVC16] .  These trainers are expected to work under the National Deaf Blind Equipment Distribution Program.

Now, back to Microsoft for just a second.  Microsoft has also created two mobile versions of their operating system, called either Windows CE or simply Windows phone. Many phones, as well as braille notetakers, will integrate their proprietary operating system with Windows CE, and they will operate simultaneously. [End of Transcript]

Web Browser

Web Browser:  signed, web browser.  A web browser is a software application that allows you to access the internet.  Simply put, it’s the program where one would type in the URL, for example,  The browser is a means to retrieve what is available on the Internet, including streaming video content, information and more.

Here are a few popular web browsers: Internet Explorer, signed IE, Safari, Chrome and Firefox.  These are just a small selection of the browsers available to you. [End of Transcript]

Wireless Internet

Wireless, signed wireless. Wired, signed wired.  Cellular Service is one example of a wireless network.  The cellular network is what allows for mobile or cell phones to be used. There are currently three types of cellular service available.  The first is 3G, or third generation.  3G service denotes a fixed rate of download and upload speeds.  It can be used for texting, making calls, checking emails but is not great for streaming large amounts of data.  4G, or fourth generation, allows for a quicker rate of data transmission, meaning, devices that use the 4G network can stream video, use video conferencing features like facetime and much more.  MiFi, stands for mobile WiFi.  A mifi device connects to the cellular service and then converts the signal into a wifi connection, allowing mobile devices such as your iPhone and iPad to connect to a WiFi network.

WiFi networks are initiated via a wired connection to an Ethernet port, and then routers convert the wired signal into a wireless signal.  This allows for laptops and other devices to wirelessly connect to the Internet.  Some laptops also offer the ability to directly connect to the network via an Ethernet port.

Bluetooth allows for information sharing between two devices within a short range.  For example, you can pair a braille notetaker with an iPhone, or a mobile phone with a Bluetooth headset. [End of Transcript]