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by Sharon Nichols

Note Takers

  • Reinforcement/Reward - Create a file called "braille", the classroom teacher can have the student turn on the APH Scholar and practice the braille alphabet.
  • Spelling Test - Help the student create a file called "spellwords", let them practice spelling their words for the upcoming test.
  • Teach the classroom teacher how to connect the APH Scholar or Braille Note to the computer for a visual display. This will encourage the teacher to "help" with the note taker.
  • Help the student create separate class folders (Science, LA, Social Studies), have one file in each folder called, "homework". Have the student write their assignments and due dates then create a "hard return". This will make each assignment appear on a separate line in the file, which will make it much easier for the student to access.
  • Help the student create a file called, "phone". Follow the procedure of inserting a hard return after the name and number is written. This will allow the name and number to appear on the same separate line.
  • Help the student load the games which come with the APH Scholar disk. Remember computer games are how most students learn to use the computer!
  • Look at the TEKS for Technology, and ask your local tech teacher for ideas.
  • One of your greatest resources is other VI teachers, talk to each other and exhange ideas.

Warning! Although the note takers have calculators built in, the Perkins braille writer is still the only way to teach math skills. It allows both spatial and step by step verification for the student.


  • Begin using "Talking Typer" from APH to teach keyboarding skills. The program is free and keeps important data such as: words per minute, mistakes in lessons, and sequential lessons. This program is self-voicing, which means it speaks straight out of the box.
  • Use "Math Flash" from APH to reinforce math skills. It has a variety of settings: addition, subtraction, multiplication, etc. The skill level can be set by the teacher, as well as how many problems in each drill set. Most important, it is a game!
  • Check out Computer Games for Students with Visual Impairments.
  • Consider using "Connect Outloud" from This is the same as JAWS, but only works with MS Internet Explorer, Outlook Express (email), and it's own word processor. It is a great start for younger students!

Print Resouces for technology. Has guides for the Mountbatten braille writer, Intellitools, ACC devices, and other VI technology.

  • Curriculum for Teaching Blind Students
  • Microsoft Word: Typing with Keyboard Commands
  • 20 Printed Lessons for Teachers Braille and Word Files for Students
  • Margaret Marston, Ph. D. Copyright 2001

IEP Objectives for Using Digital Talking Books. If you don't know what these are, check it out!
Visually Impaired Resource Guide - Assistive Technology for Students who use Braille
Braille Lite
Visually Impaired Resource Guide - Assistive Technology for Students who use Braille
Texas Text Exchange - Welcome to the Texas Text Exchange - the first web-based digital library of electronic books for exclusive use by students with disabilities!
The TTE has 441 books online and 100 active institutions in the US and Canada.,420,18,24,html
Pulse Data Releases KeyWeb, The First Portable Web Browser For Persons Who Are Blind

Put this page together quickly based on a request. It is a very cursory (no pun intended) treatment of keyboarding software. We can make it better.  If you have reviews (positive, negative, whatever) of any of the above, or any new software, or teaching techniques, lesson plans, etc. related to this topic, please share them with Jim Allan. I will post them to this page, so all teachers can benefit from your experience.

  • VI Technology Resource Guide Keyboarding Skills - excellent source for skills list and strategies
  • Search Closing the Gap Resource Directory - search for "keyboarding" to see a list of available keyboarding software. Includes short review, product description, and manufacturer contact information.
  • About One Hand Typing and Keyboarding - Resources, Instructions and Motivation
  • Talking Typing Teacher - built-in speech
  • SuperKids Software Review of Typing Software - good overview of keyboarding software.
  • Ultrakey: SuperKids Software Review of UltraKey.
  • Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing: SuperKids Software Review of Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing Version 5.
  • Mario Teaches Typing: SuperKids Software Review of Mario Teaches Typing 2.
  • Type to Learn: ( SuperKids Software Review of Type to Learn.
    comments from vision teachers (from AERNET)
    From Carla Wirzburger
    This program comes on disk and CD in both MAC and PC formats. It has  large print options and I've used it very successfully with low vision students of various abilities and ages. I've also had a couple of paraprofessionals learn to type along with my students. It is a little unusual in that it does not teach the home-row keys first. I find this is great for kids who might have trouble remembering the whole home-row as taught in traditional programs or kids who might have more difficulties learning to coordinate their ring and little fingers. However, if I'm working with a student with good motor-memory and coordination, I prefer a more traditional home-row approach.
    From PBJGal
    It's a very good program. Although I do not believe that it was designed with only visually impaired people in mind, it has some very good qualities. The contrast is good; there is some speech; there is not a lot of visual clutter and there are a variety of lessons and games available. It works well with Close View - a screen enlargement program on the Mac.
    From Pam Zipperer
    If your student has low vision, Sunburst Company has a great program called "Type to Learn."  I have used it with students as young as four years old.  You can set all types of parameters as far as mastery, words per minute, etc.  It's the best keyboarding program I have found.  I would work for about 15 minutes with my student making sure he was using the correct finger placement, etc; after a few years, he was able to work independently.  We just kept increasing the number of words per minute he needed to type, before he could move to the next level.  toll free number is 800-321-7511.
  • Infogrip, Inc. - One-handed, other keyboards, and alternative input devices.
  • Keyboarding For Kids
    Teach your child in 10 easy fun lessons by Barbara Aliaga
    International Self-Counsel Press Ltd.
    Editorial Office
    306 West 25th Street
    North Vancouver, BC V7N 2G1

If you have reviews (positive, negative, whatever) of any of the above, or any new software, or teaching techniques, lesson plans, etc. related to this topic, please share them with Jim Allan. I will post them to this page, so all teachers can benefit from your experience.

by Sharon Nichols


In today's world learning to use email applications is a natural activity for most students. The rewards are almost immediate! Here are some ideas to help your student jump into the glorious world of email.

  • Have student use email to contact the VI teacher with questions or weekly updates. (Depending on access to equipment and homework load the student may need a designated time at school to do this!)
  • Students can email each other. Several of our students met at a VI low vision day and exchanged email addresses.
  • Email your student encouraging messages, information on interesting web sites, or even a joke. This gives them opportunities to practice opening and reading their email.

Phone book:

Help your student set up phone book file using a computer or Braille notetaker.

  • Practice phone skills using the phone book file your student has created.
  • Encourage your student to add new numbers to the file monthly (family, friends, teachers)
  • Have your student call the State Library to order books and keep the number in the phone book file.


Use the calendar function on your student's computer (as in Microsoft Outlook), or a Braille notetaker. Your student could learn to use this function to keep up with class assignments and projects. All students learn to keep an assignment notebook and using technology can reduce the bulk of paperwork your student carries.

Writing Journal:

Allow your student to keep their writing journal in their Braille notetaker or computer.

  • Have to student print out journal entries at the end of the week to place in a notebook. Allowing them to keep one progressive journal per week, gives the student daily practice on locating, opening, and saving files.
  • Show your student how to create a "diary" on their device.


Use technology in the classroom to take notes. Students can listen to or print out note files to study for exams.

Completing Classroom Assignments:

Students should use their notetakers and computers to complete as many classroom assignments as is appropriate. (Remember, that math must be written on a Braillewriter.) Technology allows students to turn in work on time and in a format that the teacher can read.

Use Scanners to Access Materials:

Teach your students to scan print materials and use OCR software to access those materials. This will be a skill for life!

by Sharon Nichols

What is assistive technology?

Assistive technology "called AT" is any device or service that helps a person be more independent at home, at work, at school, or at play. AT devices include everything from pencil grips to computers and wheelchairs. AT services assist the child with a disability in the selection, acquisition, use and maintenance of an AT device. Services include specialized evaluations and training for students, teachers and parents in the use and maintenance of AT.

How can AT help my child learn?

AT can help children with disabilities to participate more fully in school and preschool by helping them to do academic and other activities more independently, productively and efficiently.

How do I get AT in my child's IEP?

First, ask your child's team for an evaluation to see whether your child would benefit from AT and, if so, what type of AT is appropriate. You and your child's team must then determine whether your child needs AT to help meet goals or objectives, to benefit from their special education program or to be in the regular classroom. If the team agrees that AT is necessary, the AT device and/or service must be included in your child's IEP.

Who pays for AT?

If AT is included in your child's IEP, the device or service must be provided at no cost to you. School districts can bill the cost to Medicaid with your permission.Parents cannot be required to use private or public insurance to pay for AT.

Can my child take AT devices home?

Generally, yes. If the school paid for the AT device, use at home or in the community must be tied to the education needs of the student, such as completing homework or reinforcing skills. If the AT was paid for by Medicaid or private insurance, then it is the property of the student and its use cannot be restricted.

What happens when my child finishes school?

Transition plans must be developed for students on IEPs by age 16. Your child's need for AT should be discussed as you plan for the transition from school to college, technical school, employment and independent or supported living situations. Your discussion should include identification of other possible funding sources for AT.

What if my child can't get AT through the IEP?

Some children with disabilities are not eligible for special education. Others may no longer be on an IEP. These children may still be entitled to AT under Section 504. For more information, refer to the separate brochure Assistive Technology & Section 504.


(Revised October 1999 by Jay Stiteley & Jim Allan)

Physical Components of the Braille Lite (BLT)

Hold the BLT so the on/off rocker switch is on the right side of the device and the braille display is closest to you.

  • When the BLT is positioned as described above, the keys will appear similar to the Perkins keyboard. These keys correspond with the dots in Braille. From left to right, they are identified as keys (dots) 3, 2, 1, 4, 5, 6. The key slightly below and perpendicular to the six keys is the space bar. The long bar positioned between the space bar and the braille display is the advance bar for the display.
  • On the right side of the BLT are the on/off rocker switch and earphone jack. Pressing down on the raised part of the rocker switch will turn the BLT on. Now the rocker switch is pushed in at the end closest to the earphone jack.
  • On the left side of the device there are three ports and the power adapter socket.
    • With the BLT positioned as described above, move your finger along the left side of the BLT, close to the top edge, from front to back. First, you will find a recessed rectangular area. Within this rectangle, There are two circles. The first circle or port encountered is the disk drive port. The second circle or port is the serial or communication port.
    • Past the serial port, and outside the recessed area, there is a round hole. This is where the power adapter is plugged into the BLT. (approximately 30 hours battery life, with a two hour quick charge, maximum of four hours of charging without damaging the machine.)
    • Below the serial and disk drive ports, there is a standard parallel port.


Advance Bar
pressing right side of bar moves the display forward 18 characters, pressing left side of bar moves display back 18 characters.
Chord commands
This means that the space bar is pressed down with whatever dot keys, letters or contractions are listed in the command. For example Chord ST means pressing (dots 3-4) and the space bar simultaneously.
Writing cursor
The writing cursor is always at the bottom of the file. The reading cursor is there with it unless reading commands are given. As soon as writing begins the reading cursor jumps to the bottom of the file with the writing cursor. The writing cursor only moves from the bottom of the file when the "insert" or "delete" commands are used.
Reading cursor
The reading cursor is free to move around the file separate from the writing cursor. Caution: when using the reading commands, if the command is not executed properly, by releasing the space bar and respective dot keys at the same time, then the BLT thinks that it is a writing process and immediately pulls the reading cursor to the bottom of the file and writes the keystrokes.
This command pulls the writing cursor to the reading cursor and allows the user to insert up to the size of the clipboard.
This command allows deleting or erasing of characters, words, lines, sentences, paragraphs, or the remainder of the document. The writing cursor is pulled to the reading cursor position and the deleting process is started from the reading cursor position.
This command will keep the reading and writing cursors together and only works from the bottom of the file. It will allow the erasing of the most recently written character. But it will only erase from the bottom of the file, not in the middle of the file. To remove a character from somewhere other than the bottom, the "delete" procedure will need to be used. The backspace command is available in the "insert" mode.
Status Menu
This menu is entered by pressing Chord ST (dots 3-4), enabling the user to change all settings (except Speech Parameters). Parameters include port settings, printing parameters, and braille display options. Chord E will exit the Status Menu, save the settings, and return to the current file.
This refers to carriage-return/linefeed. Chord (dots 4-6) is used to generate a return character. When a file is transmitted to the printer, each time the printer receives a return character it will push the print head to the left margin and force a linefeed.


This section describes how the training materials are written to make it clear what letters, spaces punctuation marks, etc. are part of the command and which are just written for clarity.

  • When a Chord command includes a letter, the letter will be capitalized, but the letter is NOT to be capitalized when executing the command.
  • Quotation marks are used to set off statements or messages made by the BLT or to set off words, numbers, or letters that should be entered by the user. In no situation should the quotation marks be written in as part of the statement or command.
  • The phrase (dots 1-3-5) is used to indicate which dots should be pressed for a letter or character as an additional reminder. Sometimes it may not have the parentheses around the word "dots" if it is only a single dot that is being pressed, usually this will be with a Chord command. The hyphens are only separators and the numbers represent only the dot numbers to be pressed.
  • Nemeth code numbering will be shortened to Nemeth or Nemeth numbering. This means that the braille number should be represented in the bottom four dots of the cell (dots 2, 3, 5, 6), no number is sign used, just the Nemeth digits.
  • Capitalization--individual letters that are part of a command will be capitalized to make it easier to recognize it as a command letter. The letter is NOT to be capitalized when executing the command.


The speech can be controlled in terms of volume, speed, pitch, frequency, punctuation and echoing capabilities.

Chord (dots 3-4-5) will enter the speech mode. Speech Command(s) then can be given, a Chord E (dots 1-5) will exit the speech parameters and invoke the settings.

  • softer volume--dot 1
  • louder volume--dot 4
  • slower speech--dot 2
  • faster speech--dot 5
  • lower pitch--dot 3
  • higher pitch--dot 6
  • lower frequency--dots 2-3
  • higher frequency--dots 5-6

Key echo, key click, or silent keys--space bar pressed repeatedly will cycle through these options:

  • silent keys: This setting will not announce any braille writing, but it will announce Chord commands, message prompts, reading commands, and editing commands.
  • key click on: This option will operate identical to the silent keys echoing pattern and it will click with each keystroke as well.
  • echo keystrokes: This option will echo every letter keystroke that is made.
  • Speak words only when writing
    • In speech Parameters choose "silent keys"
    • Chord E, exit speech parameters
    • Chord G (dots 1-2-4-5), BLT says "Interactive on", toggles interactive mode
    • When writing words are announced when space bar is pressed
  • Punctuation Announcements:
    • This refers to the amount of punctuation marks announced while reading text.
    • z--zero or no punctuation marks announced
    • s--some punctuation marks announced, such as: parentheses, quotations, brackets. (this is the default setting)
    • m--most punctuation, speaks all punctuation marks but not spaces.
    • t--total punctuation, says all punctuation marks and spaces in reading and command statements, like "top space of space file space" This latter can become very confusing and annoying.
  • Numbers:
    • Pressing "n" (dots 1-3-4-5) will toggle between "say full numbers" and "say digits"


All display parameter changes occur in the Status Menu Chord dots 3-4. All parameters are yes/no choices, toggled with the space bar. Chord B (dots 1-2) jumps to Braille display parameters. Move down the list using Chord dot 4 or up the list using Chord dot 1. Below is a list of braille display parameters (note default parameter setting is in all CAPS).

  • Braille display ON/off
  • Speech ON/off
  • 8 dots mode on/OFF
  • Serial tracking ON/off
  • Keyboard tracking ON/off
  • Control Chars (characters) on/OFF
  • Cursor always visible on/OFF
  • Word wrap ON/off
  • End display on carriage return on/OFF
  • Display all ON/off
  • Grade 2 messages ON/off
  • Reverse advance on/OFF
  • View in Grade 2 on/OFF (converts text files to Grade 2)
    --Last braille display parameter


  • Press Chord O (dots 1-3-5)
  • BLT says "Option."
  • F (dots 1-2-4) to indicate you want to work with a file.
  • BLT says "Enter file command."
  • C (dots 1-4) to indicate you wish to create a new file.
  • BLT says "Enter name of file to create."
  • Braille the name of the file you want to create, using grade 1 Braille symbols. It is recommended that capital signs, grade two contractions, and numbers not be used when writing the file name. Press a Chord E (dots 1-5) to accept the filename. (Note: a file with no extensions or with brl, bfm, brf, br*, extensions will be grade 2 files, all other extensions are computer braille files.)
  • You are now in your file, and may begin entering data. Grade one or two braille is acceptable for writing any file being printed to either an ink or braille printer. (Note: Grade three braille, can be used if only printing to a braille printer or using it for personal notes. The speech output will not be as clear because the translator is not capable of converting the grade three to understandable English.)


There are 3 writing modes. The default mode is Append. All text will be added to the end of the file unless the insert or delete command is used.

Other writing modes must be turned on in the Status Menu using PC Edit mode. Steps follow:

  • Chord dots 3-4
  • BLT says "Status Menu"
  • Dots 1-2-4-6
  • BLT says "PC is Edit Off" (this is the default Append Mode)
  • You now have 3 choices, entering the letter "Y", "I", or "N" for
    • Y = PC Edit mode on with append mode active at startup. You may cycle between the append, insert, and over-write modes using Chord I (dots 1-5) in the document. (note: append voice is normal (how you set it), insert voice is higher pitch, and over-write voice is lower pitch.)
    • I = PC Edit Mode on with insert mode active at startup. The default mode is append. All text will be added to the end of the file unless the insert or delete command is used.
    • N = Append only (this is the default), you are not able to switch to the other modes. To insert text in the document, the standard Insert Process must be used (see Editing Text below)

Write as you would on a Perkins braille writer. Using traditional grade two braille rules and spacing for the braille. Letter signs should be used more often.

Writing Commands

Chord B
Backspace, moves the cursor back one space and erases that character. The BLT will then announce the character to the left of the new writing cursor position. The character to the left of the cursor position is announced because if the Chord B is given again the announced character is the character that will be erased.
Chord dots 4-6
creates a carriage return in your text. If "key echo" is on the BLT says "new line"
Chord dots 4-6 Chord dots 4-6
places two new lines together thus making the beginning of a new paragraph.
Chord dots 4-5 (n), Chord E
(n) is a number. This is the TAB command, it will place (n minus 1) spaces in the document. The writing cursor will appear in the number position indicated in (n). For example, if the number 6 was used for the tab number; there will be five spaces added to the document, and the writing cursor is on the sixth space waiting for the next keystroke. (Hint: all TABs start from the left margin, not the current character position)


  • Tabs--decide how long the print line will be when determining the tabs. Be sure the tabs are set with print in mind (five spaces for paragraphs. Remember, to get five spaces the number in the tab command must be a six.)
  • The line length, left margin, page length, and top margins are all set at the point of printing, Only use "return" when a new line or paragraph is to be started.


If a file was originally written with printing it to ink and now it will be printed to braille, consider the following changes:

Tabs changed from five to two spaces. This will require searching with the Find Command (See Find Command below for more details )


These commands move the Reading Cursor within the file. If in "Append Mode" the writing cursor will remain at the bottom of the file. If the PC Edit is set to Y or I, and you are in the insert or over-write mode the writing cursor follows the reading cursor.

Reading Cursor Commands

Chord L (dots 1-2-3)
moves the cursor to the top of the file and says "top of file".
Chord dots 4-5-6
moves the cursor to the end of the file and says "bottom of file".
Chord dot 3
previous character, moves the cursor back one character and announces the character. The cursor is on the announced character.
Chord dot 6
next character, moves the cursor forward one character and says the new character. The cursor is on the announced character.
Chord dots 3-6
says the current character. If you press the Chord twice, the BLT says the HAM call word starting with the same letter. For example, for the letter C the word "Charlie" would be said.
Chord dot 2
previous word, moves the cursor back one word and says it. The cursor is on the first character of the spoken word. A word is defined as any string of characters between to spaces.
Chord dot 5
next word, moves the cursor forward one word and says that word. The cursor is on the first character of the spoken word.
Chord dots 2-5
says current word. Pressed twice, the BLT will spell the word. The cursor is on the first character of the word.
Chord dot 1
previous line, moves the cursor back one line and announces the line. The cursor is on the first character of the spoken line. A line is any string of characters between two single returns.
Chord dot 4
next line, moves the cursor forward one line and says the line. The cursor is on the first character of the spoken line. A line is any string of characters/words between two single return symbols.
Chord C (dots 1-4)
reads the current line and the cursor is on the first character of the line.
Chord dots 2-3
previous paragraph, moves the cursor back one paragraph and announces it. The cursor is on the first character of the spoken paragraph. A paragraph is any string of characters/words between any double set of return symbols.
Chord dots 5-6
next paragraph, moves the cursor forward one paragraph and announces it. The cursor is on the first character of the spoken paragraph.
Chord dots 1-2-4-5-6
read to end of file, will read the text in your file, starting at the cursor position. To stop the reading, press Chord E. The reading will stop at the end of the current line the cursor is on. The cursor will be on the first character of the next line.
Chord dots 1-5-6
where is cursor, speaks cursor position within the file. The position on the current line and the overall character number of the cursor in the file.
Chord R (dots 1-2-3-5)
room left in memory, announces the amount of reserved memory available in the file.


There are several options for opening a file you have already created.

The following procedure works well if you remember the name of your file and how you spelled it.

  • Chord O (dots 1-3-5), BLT says "option."
  • F (dots 1-2-4), to indicate you want to work with a file, BLT says "file commands".
  • (dots 1-3-5), to indicate you want to open an existing file. BLT says "Enter file to open."
  • Enter the name of the file you want to open,
  • Execute the command with a Chord E (dots 1-5). You are now in your file and may begin editing.

This next procedure works well if you can not remember the name of your file and/or how it was spelled.

  • Chord O (dots 1-3-5), BLT says "option."
  • F (dots 1-2-4), to indicate you want to work with a file, BLT says "file commands".
  • L (dots 1-2-3), to indicate you want to hear a list of all the files in your BLT. BLT says "file list, help 9 pages …" The BLT will immediately begin reading the list of file names.
  • If you want to examine the list more closely, Use a Chord dot 4, to move down the list, or a Chord dot 1 to move up the list.
  • As the Chord dot 1 and Chord dot 4 method is being used, when you hear the name of the file you want to open, press a Chord O. You are now in your file and may begin editing.

Another way to open an existing file is to remember the number of the file. To find out the file number execute a Chord C while in the file list.

  • Chord O (dots 1-3-5), BLT says "option."
  • Braille in Nemeth the file number. If the number is nine or less the zero must be entered as part of the number. For example, to open file number eight, Chord O 08, No Chord E is necessary. The file name will be announced as it is being open.


This is a method of locating specific text strings in a file. It is very useful for locating names in a phone or address list.

Find Text in Current File Procedure

  • Chord F (dots 1-2-4), to indicate you want to find a specific string of text. BLT says "Enter text to find."
  • Enter the text you are looking for. Enter enough characters (63 maximum) to have a fair chance of finding the text. Entering too much text increases the possibility of making an error. The backspace command (Chord B) is valid in Find.
  • Complete the command with a Chord E (dots 1-5). The cursor moves to the first character of the found text string being searched for, then reads from that position to the end of the line.
  • If you want to search backward instead of forward in your file, end the find string with a Chord dots 1-4-5-6. This will move the reading cursor back to the first character of the previous occurrence of the text string in the Find command.

To Find the next occurrence of the same text string, press Chord F, Chord E. Braille no text in for the statement "enter text to find"

To Find a previous occurrence of the same string press Chord F, Chord dots 1-4-5-6. Again enter no text when the BLT says "enter text to find"

Find and Replace Procedure

  • Chord F (dots 1-2-4), to indicate you want to find a specific string of text. BLT says "Enter text to find." (note: Find and Replace only works from cursor position to bottom of file.)
  • Enter the text you are looking for. Enter enough characters (63 maximum) to have a fair chance of finding the text. Entering too much text increases the possibility of making an error. The backspace command (Chord B) is valid in Find.
  • Chord R (dots 1-2-3-5), BLT says "enter replacement text"
  • Enter text you want as replacement.
  • Complete the command with a Chord E (dots 1-5).
  • The cursor moves to the first character of the found text string, BLT says "Replace, Skip, or All". Enter: "R" to replace the text, "S" to skip this occurrence, or "A" to replace all occurrences (note: to hear the found text in context enter Chord C).

Find Text in ANY File Procedure (Global Find)

  • Chord F (dots 1-2-4), to indicate you want to find a specific string of text. BLT says "Enter text to find."
  • Enter the text you are looking for. Enter enough characters (63 maximum) to have a fair chance of finding the text. Entering too much text increases the possibility of making an error. The backspace command (Chord B) is valid in Find.
  • Chord F (dots 1-2-4), BLT says "enter search options." Enter one or more of the following letters.
    • A search all files
    • R search RAM file
    • F search FLASH files
    • Z search RAM and FLASH files
    • search files in current folder
    • B search Braille files (files with no extension or extension of brf, brl, bfm, or br*)
    • D search Duxbury or Megadots files
    • T search Text files (files with txt or non-braille file extension)
    • S search small files less than 2 pages in length
    • M search medium size files, 3-10 pages in length
    • L search large files, greater than 10 pages in length
    • C perform a case sensitive search
    • Q quiet search, no file names announced
    • Dots 4-6 search currently open file
    • Dots 3-4-5-6 place file names in which search string was found in the clipboard

The following defaults are in effect-Search all RAM files both text and braille regardless of folder and not case sensitive.

Complete the command with a Chord E (dots 1-5). (note: if you do not enter any letters, the defaults are used)

The cursor moves to the first character of the found text string, BLT says "C, O, S, or Z" where

  • C = continue find
  • = stop search and open file
  • S = skip the current file and continue search in next file
  • Z = abort search
  • Chord C = speak found text in context or use Advance bar to read silently with braille display.
  • Chord dots 1-5-6 = hear file name where text was found


In this section deleting, inserting, and single character corrections will be described.

Delete Text

Move the cursor to the first character of the text you want to delete. Remember: the cursor is on the first character of whatever increment of cursor movement is being used. If you want to position the cursor on a specific character use the Chord dot 6 or Chord dot 3. The cursor is on the spoken character.

Press Chord D (dots 1-4-5). BLT says, "Enter delete parameter."

  • Chord D deletes current character
  • C character(s)
  • W word(s)
  • L line(s)
  • P paragraph(s)
  • Z text from the cursor to the end of the file

After you have entered C, W, L, or P, you must also tell the BLT how many characters, words, lines, or paragraphs you want deleted. Remember, you must enter numbers in Nemeth code. For example to delete 3 characters enter C3. If only a single character, word, line, or paragraph is to be deleted, no number is needed.

Chord E. (Note: all deletions occur from the cursor to the end of the increment specified, C, W, L, or P.)

Note: all deleted text is copied to the clipboard. If text being deleted is larger than clipboard, BLT says "Insufficient space in clipboard, continue anyway. Enter Y or N"

Inserting Text

  • Position the cursor on the character or space where you want the insertion to begin.
  • Chord I (dots 2-4) BLT says "Insert mode active."
  • Enter the text you want to insert.
  • Chord E inserts text and ends the insertion mode, or
  • Chord Z (dots 1-3-5-6) aborts insertion, no text is inserted in document
  • Note: if BLT turned off before Chord E is executed all insertion text is lost. This insertion mode is different than PC Edit mode.


If you are editing your text and find a character you want to change, follow the steps below.

  • Move your cursor to the character you want to change.
  • Press Chord dots 2-4-6. BLT says "Overwrite."
  • Braille the new character. You DO NOT end this command with a Chord E. The BLT simply makes the correction. The cursor stays on the character that was corrected. Remember this is only good for a single character correction.
  • For multiple character replacements, change to "continuous overwrite" with Chord dots 2-4-6, Chord dots 2-4-6. When you have completed overwrite enter Chord dots 2-4-6 to end overwrite mode.


The BLT has a built-in help file. If you want to review some commands, you can open the help file using the Chord dots 1-4-5-6 command, BLT says "Help is Open." Use your "find" commands to help you locate the specific information. The BLT help file is written in Grade 1 Braille, so you will need to braille in your search string in Grade 1 Braille also. The reading commands are usable as well. When you have found the information you need, press Chord Z, and you will be returned to file you were editing. The Help File is "Write Protected," This means that no text can be written, inserted, or deleted in the Help File. The message "file is write protected" is spoken anytime a non-Chord command is given.


You can use the clipboard as a copy, cut and paste buffer.

Cut and Paste

  • Use the delete feature of the BLT to delete a line, paragraph, or the page. The text you have deleted is automatically moved to the Clipboard. (file number 01), or
  • If you want to delete a block of material that is not a line, paragraph or page, move the cursor to the beginning of the text you want to cut, press Chord M dots 1-3-4, BLT says "Mark".
  • Move your cursor to the end of the text you want to cut
  • Press Chord D dots 1-4-5, M (not chord), Chord E. This will delete the marked block of text from your file and move it to the Clipboard.
  • Move the cursor to the place you want to insert the material (either in the current file or in a different file.) Press Chord dots 3-4-6. BLT says "paste what"
  • Enter the letter C for clipboard. The data will be moved from the Clipboard and inserted at the cursor position.
  • Note: all deletions go to the Clipboard. Be sure that you do not delete, insert, or backspace any other text between steps 4 and 5. Otherwise, the material to be inserted will be lost.


  • Move the cursor to the beginning of the text you want to copy, press Chord M dots 1-3-4, BLT says "Mark".
  • Move your cursor to the end of the text you want to copy
  • Chord dots 1-2-6. The copy command, BLT says "Copy or Append, Enter C or A. The marked block will remain in the current file position. "Copy" will copy marked text to the clipboard, overwriting existing clipboard information. "Append" will append marked text to the end of text in clipboard.
  • Move cursor to the position in your current file or to a different file where you want to insert the text from the Clipboard.
  • Chord dots 3-4-6. BLT says "Paste What"
  • Enter "C" for clipboard


Cable the BLT parallel port to the printing device (ink or braille printer).

  • Chord dots 3-4, enter the status menu, BLT says "status menu"
  • "L", BLT says "printer is Epson compatible." 
    Cycle through choices with space bar. 
  • Choices are Epson, Imagewriter, or HP (must be DOS compatible). You may also use "E", "I", or "H" to select a printer choice. Default is Epson. 
    Default settings for print are: line length 75, print left margin 10, print page length 60, print top margin 6. These settings are 1 inch margins all around the page. 
    Default setting for braille are: line length 33 (8.5 by 11 inch paper), braille left margin 1, braille page length 25, braille top margin 1. If you wish to change any of these parameters use Chord dot 4 to move through Status Menu. When you hear parameter you wish to change, enter Nemeth code numbers for the new value. Save parameter setting with a Chord E, BLT announce parameter setting.
  • Chord E exits Status Menu, BLT says "Exit"

Print text to ink printer through parallel port

  • Chord T dots 2-3-4-5, BLT says "enter transmit parameter"
  • Chord T dots 2-3-4-5, formatting and translating text to parallel port (All braille is back translated to ink print characters.)

Print text to braille printer through parallel port

  • Chord T dots 2-3-4-5, BLT says "enter transmit parameter"
  • Chord B dots 1-2, formatting and transmitting braille to parallel port (printing braille prints exactly what is in the file. No braille translation occurs.)


Connect Disk Drive to either serial (round) port on the BLT. BLT must be turned on first, Disk drive turned on next.

Saving to disk

  • Open BLT file to be saved
  • Chord S dots 2-3-4, BLT says "storage"
  • "S" BLT says "Save, enter file name"
  • Enter the file name (NO Grade 2, 8 characters maximum followed by period-dots 4-6 and a 3 character extension) (NOTE: file will be saved exactly as it is written.)
  • Chord E, BLT: "beeps"

Loading file from Disk Drive

  • Create a new file (see above)
  • Insert disk with file to be loaded (file can be text or Grade 2 braille translated file.) Chord S, BLT says "storage"
  • "L", BLT says "load, enter file name"
  • Enter file name
  • Chord E, when loading complete BLT says "OK"
  • Note: When reading this file after it is loaded and it sounds like gibberish with many punctuation marks, turn on Grade 2 translator, Chord P dots 1-2-3-4, "T", "Y"

Saving a braille file as a back translated text file

  • Chord S dots 2-3-4, BLT says "storage"
  • "W" BLT says "Save text without formatting, enter file name"
  • Enter the file name (NO Grade 2, 8 characters maximum followed by period-dots 4-6 and a 3 character extension) (NOTE: file will be saved exactly as it is written.)
  • Chord E, BLT says "n pages printed" and "beeps"

Directory of disk

  • Chord S dots 2-3-4, BLT says "storage"
  • "D", BLT says "directory, enter file name"
  • Chord E reads root directory
  • If you want to read a specific sub-directory, Enter file name (sub-directory name), Chord E to read sub-directory


The BLT has basic and scientific calculators available. Below are several of the commands available in the simple calculator.

Chord O, C -- opens the calculator. All numbers are written in Nemeth Code in the lower portion of the cell, and no number signs are used.

Math Functions

  • addition--dots 3, 4, 6
  • subtraction--dots 3, 6.
  • multiplication--dots 1, 6
  • division--dots 3, 4
  • per cent--dots 1, 4, 6
  • square root--Chord 3, 4, 5


Chord E
concludes the problem, and pressing it a second time will repeat the answer, not repeat the operational functions of the problem.
Chord F
toggles the announcements of the numbers between digits and full numbers.
Chord S followed by letters A-Z. 
This stores the current answer in a memory area labeled by the indicated letter.
Letters A-Z. 
Letters used in a problem will represent the value that has been stored in that letter.
Chord Z
exits the calculator and returns to the previous file.


A "macro" is a single keystroke that will execute a series of keystrokes that it has been programmed to perform. The BLT has a total of 63 possible macros. Each macro can have up to 63 keystrokes in it.

Create Macro

  • Chord N dots 1-3-5-6, BLT says "Macro, Enter a character"
  • Enter the character by which you want to identify the macro, BLT says "recording"
  • Type in the commands that you would normally execute manually. It is advisable to write each step down prior to writing them into the BLT. This may minimize mistakes, or forgotten steps. Note: placing a Chord K dots 1-3 as first character of macro will silence all following keystrokes when macro is executed.
  • Chord N to save macro, BLT say "macro end."

Executing a Macro

  • Position cursor at location from which you want to execute the macro.
  • Chord J dots 2-4-5, BLT says "Macro"
  • Enter character name of desired macro to execute
  • Macro is executed


Warm Reset –returns all setting back to factory defaults, no data is lost

  • Chord 1-2-3-4-5-6, BLT says "warm reset, please verify"
  • Chord 1-2-3-4-5-6, returns all setting back to factory defaults, no data is lost

One-Handed Braille Mode

  • Dot 6 held down on turn on
  • Dot 3 held down on turn on returns to two-handed braille mode.

Silent turn on – space bar held down on turn on, no sign-on messages spoken

The page suggests abilities or skills that students should be working on at various grade levels. 


  • alphabet knowledge (pre-braille skills)
  • motor planning development
  • fine motor development - hand concepts, strength
  • social skills
  • ability to ask questions
  • orientation - directionality
  • safe movement
  • visual skill development
  • eye-hand coordination skills
  • listening skills
  • cause and effect

First through third grade:

  • learning to read (braille) 
    • focus on tactile Braille reading not Braille in - auditory out!!
  • learning to write (braille)
  • using a braille writer
  • more motor planning
  • more fine motor development
  • method of getting more immediate feedback from print or braille materials
  • method of producing print
  • expanded orientation; safe movement around several rooms

  • beginning use of low vision aids (magnifiers, telescopes), continuing throughout school
  • Minimize amount of use and time of auditory letter recognition
  • tracking skills
  • correlation between mobility skills and ability to navigate on the screen
  • Exploration of keyboard - Arrow keys, return, on/off, pieces parts. Home row, #, beginning touch typing
  • Low vision students - mouse, video magnifier
  • Care and Feeding - proper behavior around technology, care for the equipment


Fourth through Sixth grades

  • completion of Braille to print conversion for immediate feedback
  • touch typing continues
  • slate and stylus use
  • continued writing on a Braille writer
  • more print production
  • portable note taking or assignment writing system
  • electronic Braille production
  • better orientation and mobility skills
  • introduction to hand printing or cursive writing (for Braille students)
  • exploration of and introduction to the types of computers used in the junior high school computer literacy course
  • use of tape player/recorder for textbooks, leisure reading, and note-taking. sources, RFB&D, TSL etc.
  • on going tech assessment
  • begin trouble shooting computer/equipment problems
  • care and feeding, maintenance of technology/Aids/prosthesis (Eye care - personal hygiene)
  • Personal control of environmental adaptations
  • Aware of their own visual condition - no concept of how others see, how much you can see, need to communicate the information to the teacher and/or others, and how it relates to using technology
  • begin telecommunications, e-mail, research/library skills
  • CD-ROM, Multimedia
  • Scanner - introduction
  • Access system instruction
  • Tape books/disks use, 

Seventh and Eighth grade:

  • independent electronic print production, including cable interfacing
  • signature writing
  • note taking in an organized fashion
  • access to the computer literacy course
  • introduction to speech and/or large print access system for the type of computer systems used by the high school
  • ordering necessary large print, Braille, or audio books

  • expand telecommunication skills


  • Scanner - Mastery
  • Contact Technical Support for various devices, software
  • Information sources for new Technology - informed consumerism
  • Exposed to new technology
  • Independent learning
  • Leisure Activities
    • games
    • drawing
    • Internet

Ninth through Twelfth grades:

  • efficient, independent note taking using various methods,
  • assignment generation to print for teachers
  • efficient and independent production of student created print/Braille materials for proofreading purposes
  • learning a speech and/or large print access system for homework production
  • learning of a word processing program with the access system.
  • identify the courses the student wishes to take that requires a computer and determine if the speech and/or large print access program will meet the need, or will new features need to be learned. Such as spreadsheet or database programs.
  • required computer courses for graduation from high school
  • knowledge of the variety of access available, and sources of information
  • advanced telecommunication skills
  • Information inquiry system
  • Personal skills, interacting with others, assertiveness skills
  • Develop research skills
  • Reader (people) skills, selecting, managing
  • Piece work/free lance - marketable job skills
  • Rehab - should not assume they need to straight to rehabilitation center from school, they need to take responsibility for their life and future

by Jim Allan and Jay Stiteley


What is Reading? gathering information, decoding


  • Books/magazines
  • Worksheets
  • Blackboard
  • Overhead
  • Maps
  • Computer screen

What affects reading Visually ?

  • Lighting
  • Contrast
  • Cistance
  • Color
  • Visual functioning

No Tech Solutions

Lo Tech Solutions

Hi Tech Solutions

Map/Graphic Solutions

  • Tactile Math Graphics
  • Creation Tools
    • Stereo Copier
    • PIAF
    • Reprotronics-Tactile Image Enhancer
  • Swell Paper
  • APH Tactile Diagram Kit
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Tracing Wheel
  • Elmer's Glue
  • Hot Glue 
  • Puff Paint
  • Wikki Sticks


Definition - creating or producing information


  • Handwriting-original, workbook, copying (notetaking)
  • Computer based-typing, keyboarding
  • Braille writing

No Tech Solutions

  • Change size, color, contrast between paper and writing instrument (felt-tip pen/marker)
  • Black line paper
  • Writing instrument 
  • Positioning
  • Computer 
    • Change font type, font size, foreground/background color
    • Use High Contrast Mode
    • Change resolution
    • Glare shields
    • Change monitor angle
    • Change mouse pointer, slow down mouse speed, mouse trails

Lo Tech Solutions

  • larger monitor
  • Large Print Key caps for keyboard
  • color filters
  • slate and stylus
  • braille writer

Hi Tech Solutions

  • Screen Magnification
  • Screen Reader
  • Portable Braille Notetakers
  • Electronic Braille Writer (Mountbatten)
  • Braille translator (also for Macintosh)
  • Braille Embosser
  • Language Master 


Definition - reading, writing, and computing numeric information

No Tech Solution

Lo Tech Solutions

Hi Tech Solutions

  • LP Graphic Calculator
  • Talking Scientific Calculator
  • Blazie Graph-it
  • Triangle
  • MathML on the web
  • Scientific Notebook



  • Household information-clothing, food, medicine, labels
  • Appliance information-manuals, controls
  • Mail
  • Check writing
  • Traveling
  • Games
  • Sports

No Tech Solutions

  • Structure, planning ahead
  • Rubber bands, buttons,

Lo Tech Solutions

  • Large print/talking everything
  • Braille tags, labels
  • Beep balls
  • Cane
  • Check writing guide
  • Signature guide

Hi Tech Solutions

  • Internet - banking, shopping, news, entertainment, schedules, etc.
    • Internet Explorer, WebSpeak, Home Page Reader
    • Eudora, Simply Mail
  • Color Talker
  • Bar Code reader
  • Guide dog

Legal Definitions:

Assistive Technology Device: any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the self, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities. (PL 100-407, PL 101-476) (may include: low vision aids, bold line paper, braille writers, screen readers, braille printers, communication devices)

Assistive Technology Service: any service that directly assists an individual with a disability in the selection acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device. Such services include:

  1. the evaluation of the needs of an individual with a disability, including a functional evaluation of the individual in the individual's customary environment;
  2. purchasing, leasing, or otherwise providing for the acquisition of assistive technology devices by individuals with disabilities;
  3. selection, designing, fitting, customizing, adapting, applying, maintaining, repairing, or replacing of assistive technology devices;
  4. coordinating and using other therapies, interventions, or services with assistive technology devices, such as those associated with existing education and rehabilitation plans and programs;
  5. training or technical assistance for an individual with disabilities, or, where appropriate, the family of an individual with disabilities; and
  6. training or technical assistance for professionals (including individuals providing education and rehabilitation services), employers, or other individuals who provide services to, employ, or are otherwise substantially involved in the major life functions of individuals with disabilities.

34 CFR §300.346(a)(2)(v) "IEP team also shall…consider whether a child requires assistive technology and services."

34 CFR §300.308 if IEP team determined that child needs assistive technology to receive FAPE the child may take assistive technology home

General Principles

  1. Assistive technology can only enhance basic skills, it cannot replace them. (Assistive technology should be used as part of the educational process, and can be used to teach basic skills.) 
  2. Assistive technology for students with visual impairments is more than an educational tool, it is a fundamental work tool – it is equivalent to pencil and paper for non-disabled students. 
  3. Students use assistive technology to access and use standard tools, complete educational tasks, and participate on an equal basis with non-disabled peers in the regular electronic educational environment. 
  4. Use of Assistive technology does not automatically make educational and commercial software/tools accessible or usable. 
  5. Appropriate technology at the appropriate time. ("We will use no technology before its time" (when it is appropriate for the student)) 

Assistive Technology Evaluation Principles

  1. An assistive technology evaluation conducted by a professional, knowledgeable in regular and assistive technology, is needed to determine whether a child requires assistive technology devices and services and should be delineated in the IEP. 
  2. Assistive technology evaluation is an extension of the Learning Media Assessment. You need basic (print and/or braille) reading and writing functioning found in the LMA, FVE, LVE, etc. to determine and evaluate appropriate assistive technology requirements. 
  3. Assistive technology evaluation must address the alternative and augmentative communication needs (ability to communicate needs and change the environment) for students with multiple impairments. 
  4. To be effective, an assistive technology evaluation should be ongoing and looking 3 years in the future. 

Student Guidelines

  1. Every student’s assistive technology needs are unique. Student needs should be matched with necessary technology rather than matching available equipment to student needs. 
  2. Functional use of assistive technology may require a combination of large print, speech, or braille. A student may require redundant sensory feedback in addition to their primary learning media (e.g. low vision student using speech output or a totally blind students using speech and braille in combination). 
  3. The goal is to maximize the functional print and/or braille reading, writing, and/or communication rate. 
  4. Reading paper materials (print or braille) may be different from reading electronically (using a computer monitor, CCTV, speech output, audio tape, or refreshable braille). 
  5. Ergonomics is important for all students at all grades with all equipment and materials. This includes keyboard location, monitor placement, feet flat on floor, book placement, assistive technology location, etc. 
  6. Learning and using assistive technology is a developmental process. If a student’s communicative or sensory functioning, i.e. hearing, vision, and/or tactual skills, change, a new technology evaluation is needed. Time and instruction is needed for learning new sensory, learning media, and assistive technology/communication skills. 
  7. Every student needs a personal communication (reading and writing) system to communicate with themselves and others. 
  8. Recreation, leisure, entertainment and other socialization activities are valid uses of assistive technology. 

Teacher Guidelines

  1. Teach needed technology skills before they are required. Thus, the student can then focus on regular classroom instruction rather than simultaneously learning the curriculum and the new assistive technology skills. 
  2. Technology training for teachers make students better users and maximizes the impact of monies expended. Keep teacher skills up to date. Training includes allowing teachers to spend scheduled time with a manual and equipment to develop skills and lessons. 
  3. Teachers need access to a phone (long distance) near the assistive technology for tech support calls. 
  4. Collaboration between vision/assistive technology teacher, computer teacher, and computer maintenance professionals helps ensure a functional/seamless assistive/regular technology environment. 


  1. Ensure assistive technology is compatible with existing equipment or newly installed/upgraded application software. Purchase software maintenance agreement for assistive technology software when available.
  2. Technology changes as a student moves to different schools at different grades. Planning is essential to fit assistive technology into the next technological environment (hardware, software, operating system, network, etc.). 
  3. Keep assistive technology (software and hardware) current. 

Assistive Technology Definitions

Screen reader - software program that works in conjunction with a speech synthesizer to provide verbalization of everything on the screen including menus, text, and punctuation. 

Screen magnification - software that focuses on a single portion (1/4, 1/9, 1/16, etc.) of the screen and enlarges it to fill the screen. 

Refreshable braille display - provide tactile output of information presented on the computer screen. Unlike conventional braille, which is permanently embossed onto paper, refreshable braille displays are mechanical in nature and lift small, rounded plastic pins as need to form braille characters. The displays contain 20, 40, or 80 braille cells, after the line is read, the user can "refresh" the display to read the next line. 

Braille translation software - translate text and formatting into appropriate braille characters and formatting. 

Braille writing equipment - used for creation of paper braille materials. Can be manual or electronic devices.  

Video Magnifier - magnify a printed page through the used of a special television camera with a zoom lens and displays the image on a monitor. 

Portable notetaker – small portable units that employ either a braille or standard keyboard to allow the user to enter information. Text is stored in files that cam be read and edited using the built-in speech synthesizer or braille display. File may be sent to a printer or braille embosser, or transferred to a computer. 

Braille embosser - a braille printer that embosses computer-generated text as braille on paper. 

Scanners - a device that converts an image from a printed page to a computer file. Optical-character-recognition (OCR) software makes the resulting computer file capable of being edited. 

Adaptive keyboard - offer a variety of ways to provide input into a computer through various options in size, layout (i.e. alphabetical order), and complexity.

Augmentative communication device - provide speech for people who are not able to communicate verbally. Device may talk, user indicates communication through the use of tactile symbols, auditory scanning, large print symbols, etc. 


Other Important information

  • Touch typing is an important life-long skill for all students who are able. (suggested typing speeds by 8th grade 30 wpm. And 50 wpm. by high school graduation) 
  • Teach keyboard commands for applications. (Be proud to be mouse free!)
  • Limit use of keyboard enhancements (large print or braille keycaps) to ensure generalization of keyboarding skills.
  • Academically able students need a portable note-taking option (not restricted to a lap-top).

Developed by Jim Allan, Statewide Technical Support Specialist Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired and Jay Stiteley, Field Representative The Seeing Eye, Inc.