Equipment for Deafblind People
This describes pieces of equipment which are used by, or are particularly
suitable for use by, deafblind people. Many of these devices are aids to
communication. Some are still being developed.
Birkenfelder Str. 12,
This is a white glove with letters of the alphabet written in various places
on it. This allows someone who does not know any of the manual alphabets
to communicate with a deafblind person wearing the glove, touching letters
in succession. The deafblind person simply feels where they are being touched
to know what letter is being sent.
Block Letter Communicator.
This portable device is designed for people who are not able to read
braille. The characters that you can feel on the device are a type of blockletter
(one character at a time). However this device works only one way, so the
deafblind person must be able to answer by speech. Delivered with cover,
rechargeable batteries and charger. It takes some practice before the deafblind
person is able to feel and recognize the characters. Price: £1,040.00.
For more information you can Contact:
4841 GC Prinsenbeek
Tel/fax +31 (0) 76 5420463
This is like the Braille 'n' Speak made by Blazie
Engineering but it has a refreshable braille display on it as well
as speech. The speech can be turned off. The Blazie site also has an
article reviewing it. Blazie Engineering
now have UK Site.
Braille Closed Caption Decoder
Converts American closed captions off TV into grade 1 or 2 braille. This
is made by Dewtronics. Nelson Dew
has supplied me with the README file for this
product, which I have put here as I received it.
The contact details for Dewtronics are:
Nelson R. Dew
206 Bob Vines Rd.
P.O. Box 308
Ghent, WV 25843-0308
Phone +1 (304) 787-9712
I have no description of this device. It can be obtained from:
Audio Visual Mart
P. O. 23020
Phone +1 504 733-1500
(800) 737-6278 -- that may be a free call number in the USA??
Fax + 1 504 733-1662
This is a small, black, plastic box, about the area of a postcard and about
1 cm thick. It opens up like a book and has braille symbols for A-Z, THE,
and AND, above which are printed the meanings in Roman type. (It may have
other symbols in, it is a while since I have seen it.) The sighted person
guides the deafblind person's finger to the appropriate cell, spelling
out the message. Malcolm Matthews <email@example.com> dug about
for me to remind me of the name. It is available from Electronic Services
for the Blind and from .
Brian And Jance Payne
28 Crofton Avenue,
Tel: +44 1689 856118.
CUPID Computer Use by the PrInt
is a system which is designed for people who use touch, sight or sound
to access information. It is an organiser, word processor and communication
aid developed by Cloudworld Ltd. The novel tactile output is not braille
based, and it is claimed to be quicker to read than braille. Outputs in
large print and clear speech are also possible. The unit is not yet in
production as I write this (June 1998). Cloudworld Ltd was founded by
Nissen <firstname.lastname@example.org> in 1996.
Finger Braille Supporting Device
'Yubi-Tenji' or finger braille system involves touching the opposite
persons fingers (3 on left and 3 on right hand) to express the characters
of the braille system. This allows fast and reliable communication but
is limited to conversations between 2 people. The Finger Braille Supporting
Device has been developed to allow several persons to take part in a conversation
simultaneously. In response to the touch of the sender on the sensor, the
message is transmitted to the back of the fingertips of the receiver by
means of motor actuators. The sensors and actuators are connected by a
cable which may extend to the length of the room. Since the device has
6 sensors and 6 actuators, two way conversation is possible between 2 people.
By connecting several devices in a cascade, simultaneous conversation between
several people is possible. The principle of the device is that if one
person touches the sensor, the signal will be received by all acuators
and vice-versa for the reply. the device has 6 sensing switches and 6 actuators
driven by a gear motor. The case contains a one-chip microcomputer. If
any switch is on the computer will send the code to both serial ports simultaneously.
The code is similar to that used in a MIDI sound system with the exception
that the Baud rate is slower.
Amateur Packet: JA2BUZ@JI2YFS.18.JNET2.JPN.AS
(Large print) timer[This page seems to have gone]
A person has developed this timer and is seeking a manufacturer for it.
Flat Magnetic Stainless Steel Speakers.
A supplementary device to aid morse code reception on the radio frequency
for deafblind persons. The FO of this device (lowest resonance frequency)
is about 800 cycles. It gives maximum power on this frequency. These magnetic
can be substituted for an existing 'dynamic' audio speaker to provide
a lower frequency which is more appropriate for morse code. The stainless
steel plate on these speakers also give a harder vibrating tone for morse
code reception. Price: ¥440
Industrial Sales and Marketing Division,
Tel: +81 3 5473 4666
Fax: +81 3 3434 4325
This allows a deafblind person who uses the British Manual alphabet to
use the telephone. There is a handshaped indentation in the top of the
unit, and the person rests their hand on this. "Buttons" are pressed up
against the fingers to form (slightly modified) British Manual characters.
This project is very much still under development, and is being held back
by funding problems. Hasicom
(Hearing And Sight Impaired Communication), whose project this is, are
now part of the Deafblind UK, in Peterborough, England. They can be contaced
by email at
BT used to have a
page about this, but it seems to have gone.
Large Print Display for TTY
Ultratec make a large print display
which plugs into the printer port of their textphones (Minicoms, or TTYs).
This is not available in the UK as Ultratec cannot justify the cost of
Lightwriters are designed to allow deaf people who don't sign, or aphasic
people, to coomunicate using text. There are various models of lightwriter,
and some of them have vacuum flourescent displays, which makes them particularly
easy to see -- they are bright blue characters. I don't think they have
a large print display though. They can have one keyboard, or two keyboards
back to back, or they can have a scanning system with a switch for people
with motor disabilities. They are produced by Toby
Churchill Ltd of Cambridge, England (Email email@example.com),
and are also described on an
Australian WWW page.
Tel: +1 610 640 2345
Fax: +1 610 647 2216
Laser Cane N-8
The N-8 is a laser cane mobility aid designed to assist blind or deafblind
individuals. Two invisible light beams are emitted from the cane. The high
light is for head-height protection; the second is directed forward for
straight ahead information. When the light beam strikes an object within
range it is reflected back to a receiving unit built into the cane. A vibrating
unit signals the userís index finger and a high or low pitched sound is
given off. N8 has a 12-foot range and can also be used as a standard cane.
The user may receive audible and tactile warning simultaneously, or turn
the sounds off. Rechargeable power source.
Wheelchair Pathfinder Navigating device for wheelchairs and scooters,
Weight: 1 lb (450g)
consisting of a set of small rectangular boxes which mount to the front
of the mobility device. Lasers point downward while ultrasonic beams are
transmitted in front and to the side of the wheelchair. When the beam contacts
an object, it bounces back to a receiver, causing both a tactile signal
and an audible warning signal. The device has a range of 8 feet (2.4m)
forward, above head height or 4 feet (1.2m) when selected; 12 inches (30.48cm)
to the side and 4 feet (1.2m) in front of a step, curb or other dropoff.
Ref: SFD-200 Price: $4,500.00
Lightweight, compact mobility aid for deafblind and blind people. The
unit utilizes ultrasonic technology to detect objects within four, eight
or sixteen feet. When an obstacle is within range, the Polaron either vibrates
or emits a sound. User selects either of these with a small switch on the
device. Other controls include the range switch and the power switch. The
unit allows the user to choose between hand-held and chest-mounted positions.
When in the chest mounted position, a miniaturized vibrator located behind
the neck in the neck strap indicates if there is an obstacle. At 8 to 16
feet (2.4 to 4.8 metres), the vibration is steady; within 8 feet (2.4 metres)
it becomes more pronounced and within 4 feet (1.2 metres) it is very intense.
The unit requires a commercial alkaline or rechargeable 9 volt battery.
The sensor angle is adjustable for chest-mounted use. Colour: black; Material:
durable plastic housing. Length: 162mm Width: 275mm Height: 50mm Weight:
270g Ref: PN-2 Price: $892.00
This paging system is designed for people who need to communicate to another
person - or need to be aware of a signal from an electronic device, such
as a smoke detector, telephone, sound monitor, or doorbell.
The wireless receiver unit is attached to a belt or pocket and sends
an audible sound (beeper) or vibration to summon the wearer when a transmitter
The receiver is notified of a 'page' from one of the optional transmitters
sent by another person, either from a pendant pager transmitter, body activated
switch, or hand-held pager transmitter. Or the receiver unit can receive
a signal from a specially designed electronic device, such as a smoke detector,
doorbell transmitter, sound monitor, or telephone transmitter. The device
has a 100 foot range. A specially designed body activated transmitter is
available for physically challenged persons.
Thank you to PETER TARRANT <ptarrant@OZEMAIL.COM.AU> for this information.
He got it from the USA.
RALPH (Robotic Alphabet)
This is a robotic fingerspelling hand which interfaces to any serial (RS232)
device. It converts the ASCII to American fingerspelling for use by a deafblind
person who is unfamiliar with braille or who does not have the sensitivity
to feel it. It is still under development.
Screen Braille Communicator
This is a portable unit about the size of a text telephone, but it only
weighs 900g (2 lb). It has a QWERTY keyboard and LCD display on one side,
and on the other (where a text phone would have its rubber cups) is a braille
keyboard and a display. The braille display can be 1 or 8 cells of 6-dot
braille. What the braille user inputs is seen on the LCD display, and what
the typist inputs is beld in a buffer and can be scrolled through by the
deafblind user. The braille is grade 1 with no group contractions (OU,
ING, AND, etc are not available). When the deafblind person has finished
reading what is in the buffer an LED lights up. The Screen Braille Communicator
is designed for face-to-face communication, so the buffer holding the text
is only 512 characters long, but this can be expanded up to 1 or 2k. There
is no connector for a computer or printer; this is for reasons of simpliciity
and cost. It is powered by a rechargeable battery. The unit can be obtained
NL-4841 GC Prinsenbeek
Voice: +31 76 5420463
Fax: +31 76 5420463
This is based on a dataglove, and allows a deafblind person to send the
British (2 handed) manual alphabet to a computer. In the future it is hoped
the computer can send back to the user by inflating small balloons in the
glove to produce pressure on the fingertips like that from another person.
It was invented by Robert Kleine. It has been shown on the
television programmes "Tomorrow's
World" and "See Hear!"
and exhibited at the London Science Museum.
Speech to braille
Krista Caudill <caudill@ASEL.UDEL.EDU>
is working with Beth Finn at the Applied Science and Engineering Laboratories
of Delaware on a project to produce a portable communications system
for deafblind people, based on translating braille to and from speech.
There is an article
about it .
Eight navigation keys provide for screen reading and editing. An autopoint
system - with up to 44 programmable push button pointers integrated with
each Braille cell - is used to activate menu items and to move the cursor
and mouse pointer to a specific cell's displayed character.
A separate Braille display computer processor features an online reference
manual and notepad available for reference or note taking independent of
any actively running PC application. The standard keyboard includes a hardware-based,
8-dot Braille keyboard emulation capability.
The SuperBraille may be a good laptop for use with a Deafblind person
because of it's portability, it may help Deafblind people to communicate
to non Deafblind Manual alphabet users when out and about.
11.3 inch x 9 inch footprint
standard QWERTY keyboard
8-dot, 40-cell Braille display
MS-DOS and Windows pre-installed
Advanced Access Devices
Contact Person: David Mansoir
2066-C Walsh Ave.
Santa Clara, CA 95050
The TACTAID II+ and the TACTAID 7 convert sounds to vibrations on small
pads which can be attached to the body. The difference is that the TACTAID
II+ has 2 channels and thus 2 pads, while the TACTAID 7 has 7 channels.
Each channel reponsds to a frequency band. The unit consists of a small
box much like a body worn aid, and wires running to the pads. If the pads
are attached to areas where long bones are prominent E.g, by a ring to
the fingers, or on a wrist band, it becomes easier to feel the vibrations.
These are manufactured by Audiological
Engineering Corporation, 35 Medford Street, Somerville, MA 02143, USA
Thank you to Dona Sauerburger <firstname.lastname@example.org> and Jim Boardman
<JBoard1952@aol.com> for this information.
This is a vibrating clock, available from
It cannot be set by a deafblind person. It "displays" the time by pulses
of vibration, the user counts the pulses to get the hours and minutes.
Talking Disc -- NO LONGER AVAILABLE
This was a disc with braille and print characters on it, and a pointer.
The pointer was moved to the print character, and the deafblind person
feels the corresponding braille character. It was available from RNIB.
A Cyberglove virtual reality gove has been used in the recognition of the
american one-handed fingerspelling alphabet.
TDDs for the Deaf-Blind
A short list from Computer
Technology for Persons with vision impairments resource list at the
Assitive Technology Alliance site.
The Telebraille is made by Telesensory
in California. The telebraille does not have a computer communications
modem but it does have a TTY (TDD) modem. It was designed as a TTY for
deafblind people and is also very useful for face to face conversation.
It has two components. The sighted component is a modified SuperCom TTY
device. It has a qwerty keyboard and a single line LED dislplay. The display
is regular size and is not particularly suited to people with low vision.
The SuperCom TTY can be connected directly to the telephone line using
conventional telephone jack or the telephone receiver can be coupled to
the SuperCom on a cradle on top of the device. Text flows past the display,
in a continuous stream, like tickertape The SuperCom is connected to the
Braille portion of the device by a cable that is about two feet long. The
Braille display is about 15 characters in width, although there is a knockout
to allow additional characters to be installed, at considerable additional
cost. The Telebraille is able to communicate in ASCI mode but it is not
compatible to conventional computer modems. There is what looks like a
RS232 socket on the back of the Braille component, but the instructions
for the Telebraille state that this jack is for 'future use' and that no
computer devices should be attached to it! This conversation reminds me
that I have not been in contact with Telesensory for over two years and
further developments may have been made since then. They have a WWW
page about the Telebraille III.
Thank you to Robert Froom
<email@example.com> for this description. Another description
of the Telebraille is available from the A-Z
to Deafblindness site.
Telephoning with Deaf-blind people over the PC,
The Award winning Project "Telephoning with Deafblind people (also
very useful for only hearing-impaired persons) over the PC". With the aid
of Ulrich Greve's project, a Deafblind person can telephone with a sighted
hearing person with the computer, the specially developed software (chooseable
with a DOS or Windows program) and modem. With a vibration signaling unit
at the deafblind person or optionally at the sighted hearing persons PC
speaker, a call is signaled - in the Windows version e.g. also during working
with a word processor. The simplicity of the user interface (DOS/Windows)
makes it possible that the programs can be also operated with a Refreshable
Braille Display. After the telephone connection is established, both interlocutors
can, e.g. in the Windows version, communicate with each other with a window,
which is divided into two parts. In the one part, the whole conversation
is shown, and in the second part the partner writes the text which he wants
to send to the other interlocutor. The program offers several setting possibilities,
e.g. of the modem, how should the telephone call be signalled (vibrator/PC
speaker) or the language of the user interface, which is German or English.
The Deafblind or deaf can multiply their very restricted communication
facilities enormously, e.g. by equipping relatives, acquaintances or authorities,
who have a PC with a modem, with the software, or connect the software
with a notebook computer (also with a Refreshable Braille Display), PCMCIA
modem and a wireless telephone.
In 1998, this project was Awarded a prize by the Christoffel Blindenmission
which tries to help blind and other disabled people (independently of their
The programs are free of charge. If you are interested in them, you
can request the programs for $10 US dollars expenses from Ulrich Greve,
or download as a compressed file (ZIP format) (size of the DOS version:
about 30 KB, size of the Windows version, about 90 KB). If you want to
download the programs, please send Ulrich Greve, a message, then he will
give you the address for downloading the software, And if required, also
an address where you can find an unpacking program for files in the ZIP
E-Mail Ulrich Greve at, firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the Telephoning with Deafblind people software
visit, Telephoning with Deaf-blind people over the PC. This site is available
in two languages.
Telephoning with Deaf-blind
people over the PC, Web site in English.
Or the Telephoning
with Deaf-blind people over the PC, Web site in German.
The teletouch is a mechanical device the size of a small portable typewriter.
It has a combined qwerty/Braille keyboard on one side and a single Braille
cell on the receiving side. The sender must type slowly and precisely because
the receiver must read one letter at a time. This machine has been out
of production for some time and is hard to get, but it does have the advantage
of being light and portable and it does not require a power supply.
Thank you to Robert Froom
<email@example.com> for this description.
The Touching Solution
to Medication Independence for Deaf-Blind Individuals: A Vibro-Tactile,
Multi-Alarm, Wearable Medication Reminder.
this is like a text telephone (or TTY) but the display is in braille. These
are no longer made and are hard to get repaired.
Vibrating Alerting Devices
There are a number of suppliers of such things including
A modified doorbell button transmits signals to a vibrating (and audible)
alarm worn by the user. This is available from
Vibrating Pager VP1
There are some devices on the commercial market which can remind people
when to do something, and some even target the medication-taking issue.
These devices, however, are not usable by deaf-blind persons for two reasons:
(1) they require vision to set the alarm times, and (2) they require hearing
to detect the alarms.
This pager is part of the Connevans Personal Pager System (PPS). This
pager is carried by the user and will vibrate when triggered by one of
the trigger units alerting the user. Ref: 50PVI Price: £110.00
These trigger units are part of the Connevans Personal Pager System
(PPS). Sensing trigger units are placed near the sources of sound and the
user carries a PPS vibrating unit which vibrates when a trigger unit has
been set off. Types of trigger units available are: fire alarm; telephone;
doorbell; baby alarm; external switch; call alarm; alarm clock and an intruder
Liquid Level Indicator
Designed principally for milk, and tea or coffee in a cup, this has long
prongs (for the milk) and short prongs (for the drink) and hangs over the
side of the cup. It vibrates when liquid touches the prongs. Available
Vuphonics Home Page.
Price: £60.00 Standard Range
54 Albert Road North, Reigate, Surrey RH2 9YR, UK.
Tel: +44 1737 247571
Fax: +44 1737 223475
54 Albert Rd
Tel: (01737) 247571
Fax: (01737) 223475
"Vuphonics" is an experimental sensory-substitution system that is being
developed for use by blind and deafblind people, and this site describes
"work-in-progress". The Vuphonics system highlights the features of visual
images that are normally perceived categorically, by substituting with
coded sound effects and their tactile equivalents. It attempts to reproduce
the "instant recognition" of objects and properties that occurs in visual
perception, by using the near-instantaneous recognition of phoneme sounds
that occurs in speech. By listening to coded phonetic sounds (and feeling
corresponding tactile/braille effects), the user can instantly understand
the colours, textures, distances and "identified objects" that are present
in an image. The non-categorical details are filled in via variations in
volume, to produce a "texture" effect. The system also conveys shape, location,
"change", and, where possible, recognised objects. I am not sure about
this myself but I thought it may be of interest to others so I have added
it on the equipment Page.
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Last Modified on 28-APRIL-2000 by