One-Handed Braille Entry to Windows Computers

I’ve got a neat new tip to share with y’all today, and it’s all because my student was confident enough to speak up and correct me after I made an incorrect claim!

I was recently working with a student at my school on a proofreading lesson, and we were in the process of pairing his Humanware BrailleNote Apex to his Windows 10 laptop for use as a braille display.  We got set up pretty quickly through the Apex’s Terminal mode, and after playing with the JAWS settings to determine our connection port, Voila! We had braille reading access to the computer.

Now, this is pretty standard fare for what my students are doing; our students are more and more able to access computers and iPads/iPhones using electronic braille devices.  However, what was more interesting about this student is that he only has the use of one of his hands.  As a result, he has been taking advantage of the BrailleNote Apex’s one-handed typing mode when using it for school writing tasks. 

The thing is, I wasn’t so sure that the one-handed mode would work when the device was set to the Terminal mode; I assumed that one-handed mode would be disabled while the Apex became a display.  Furthermore, I am not familiar with any one-handed braille entry settings within JAWS.  If you know of any, please let me know about them!  All this to say, I explained these reservations with my student so he could be aware in case he wanted to make edits as he proofread some work; he might want to use the keyboard instead of the Apex’s keys.  However, he quickly gave things a try and spoke up: “Actually it still works!” I was shocked, but also very excited for my student!  What a pleasant surprise.

In sum, I want to make it known that if you or a student has a one-handed braille entry need for data entry to a Windows computer that is running JAWS, the BrailleNote Apex may be a great solution for you.  With its built-in one-handed entry mode enabled, you are able to use that setting even when set to display the computer’s contents.  A note, I only experienced this success using the Apex.  I have not yet tried the same solution using the BrailleNote Touch/Touch Plus or other braille notetaker, though I am now very hopeful that they too will be able to provide similar quality one-handed braille entry features.  What you will find likely does not work is any one-handed solutions for entry if you only have a braille display like the Humanware Brailliant or Freedom Scientific Focus devices.  These devices do not have built-in one-handed modes and thus would not have any way to accommodate users; I do not believe that JAWS and other screen readers do not have one-handed modes.

Was this tidbit useful for you?  I hope so! Do you know of any other one-handed braille entry solutions for computer or iOS data entry, or did I make another incorrect statement?  Please let me know in the comments!