Re: Your Experience with Braille Displays

  • From: Alex Midence <alex.midence@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: programmingblind@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 24 Jul 2010 23:44:09 -0500


I'll add the following to this discussion.  I'll preface my comments
by stating that I'm new to programming with my time in it measured in
months.  I'm a little more seasoned at html though which I don't
consider a programming language although it has a few of the same

I use Jaws 11 and a focus 80 braille display on a machine running
windows xp pro and another running windows xp media center.  I simply
could not conceive of being able to code efficiently without one.
Proofreading is so much simpler with a braille display than with
speach alone.  Also, editing the code can be much faster since a lot
of braille displays now adays have routing buttons right above the
cells that you can push to jump right to a bit of code you wish to
edit.   For instance:

1 //  c++ program to make your pc greet you personally.
2 #include <string>
3 #include <iostream>
4 using namespace std;
5 int main ()
6        {
7     string nombre;

8     cout < "What is your name?" << endl;
9     cin >> nombre;
10     cout << "Hello, " << "nombre!':
11     return 0
12        ]

This will not compile because I've got some syntax errors.  On line 8,
 I've only got one left angle bracket instead of two (< instead of
<<).  On line 10, I've got a single quote (') and a colon (:) instead
of a double quote and a semicolon on the end ( " and ;).  On line 11,
I don't have a semicolon at the end of my line and line 12 has a right
bracket instead of a right brace ( ] and not a }).

Now, when I run this code, my compiler throws a fit and gives all
sorts of annoying little error messages.  When I go back into my code
to check it, unless I've got my punctuation settings at maximum with
speech and arrow down line by line and wait until the speech is over
for that line, I won't spot these errors right away.  It might take me
a few passes to find them.  This is only 12 lines of code.  I can't
imagine how long and grueling this is with hundreds of lines of code.
With my handy dandy focus 80 brailel display, however, I pan  down the
lines of code, run the old fingers across and spot the errors pretty
quicly. I hit the routing button above that lonely < sign on line 8
and type another one to make two.  I do the same thing on line 10 at
the end there to get my " and ; onto the line and I slap a semicolon
on the end of line 11.  I get to line 12, curse, delete the offending
bracket and replace it with a brace by first routing to it with the
routing button and just doing my replacement.

also, I'm able to perceive all the indentation in the code nicely.
I've got my braces at 8 spaces in and my text in the block at 5 spaces
in from the left margin.  When I learn Pyton, I don't anticipate
having any trouble using braille.  You CAN make Jaws tell you exactly
hwo many blank spaces there are before some text but it's pretty
annoying to hear.

In html braille is even more critical since you can have lines and
lines of text until you get to your tags.  Having your screen reader
spell every word or give you each and every punctuation mark in a
multiparagraph webpage is simply too horrrible to think about
especially when, most of the time, you just forgot to place your end
tags just so or have two less than signs when you needed a less than
and a greater than.

You really need to get yourself a braille display.  If you aren't a
strong braille reader yet, make it a priority to become one.  It will
open up a whole new world for you and not just in programming.
Hope this helps.


On 7/23/10, Nick.Adamson@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
<Nick.Adamson@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> Hi Kerneels.
> Glad to see your still looking in to this.
> As I recommended I would try to see if you can borrow a display for a
> month or so to find out if you get on with it. As I said to you I find
> mine invaluable but I no some who can take or leave them.
> In terms of size my personal preference is as big as you can get. IMO it
> allows you to see as much of the code in one go as you can but it all
> depends on money.
> In terms of make I've used an Alva, focus and Tieman. The one I liked
> most was the Tieman, it was a comby Braille 80. the controls were nice
> and the Braille cells were lovely and clear. I don't know if you can
> still get these. The Alva I've got is ok, it's a bit basic in terms of
> controls but it does me ok. I use the focus 80 at work and its so. The
> controls are nice and its generally a smaller bit of kit. It doesn't
> seem as robust as the Alva, I've been using it from new for the last 5
> years and some dots have already stopped working. The Alva I've had for
> 7 years and it was second hand then and all but 1 dot is still working
> fine. I also find the display on the focus a little mushy, I'm not sure
> how else to describe it.
> In terms of screen reader support many people on this list will know I'm
> a fan of Hal. IMO the Braille support in Hal is wonderful. I know there
> are many users in Europe which don't use the speech at all with Hal,
> just Braille. In comparison the last time I used Braille with jaws it
> did seem a bit primitive but that was on jaws 7 so I would hope things
> have moved on since then. I've never tried Braille with WE so someone
> else may have some experience with it.
> HTH.
> Nick.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: programmingblind-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
> [mailto:programmingblind-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Kerneels
> Roos
> Sent: 22 July 2010 16:15
> To: programmingblind
> Subject: Your Experience with Braille Displays
> Hi everyone,
> In a recent conversation with a fellow member of this list, I got a
> strong impression that, with the aid of a Braille display one would be
> able to be a lot more productive when coding, especially if the display
> is sufficiently large (80 cells for example).
> I myself have never used a Braille display and have been learning
> Braille for the last year and a half with reasonable success. As a
> programmer who has been in the industry for about 10 years now I can
> totally understand how a Braille display could assist you, especially
> with those long lines of object upon object ending in some deep down
> function call. Or some of those heavily nested conditional C-style
> expressions:
> result = (condition1 || condition2) &&  condition3 ? value1 :
> (condition4 ? value4 : value5)
> or something similar and more complex -- the above one is quite trivial
> :-).
> But how have you experienced programming with a Braille display at your
> service?
> Has there been any particular model / make / design which you can
> recommend above others?
> Are there any models you absolutely could not get along with, or which
> were unreliable and broke all the time?
> And how about screen reader compattibility? In your opinion, does screen
> reader X stand out at working the best with a Braille display while
> screen reader Y failed you dismally.
> And lastly, has there been any particular language you absolutely could
> not get any joy with while trying to read code with a Braille display?
> Many questions, I know, but feel free to respond with anything you feel
> strongly about regarding this topic.
> Eager to hear your responses,
> K
> --
> Kerneels Roos
> Cell/SMS: +27 (0)82 309 1998
> Skype: cornelis.roos
> __________
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