Saturday, April 27, 2013

Perkins SMART Brailler: My Turn (updated)

The SMART Brailler has been visiting us for a week now. Abby & Sam both have gotten a chance to use it.  Now its my turn.

Abby's 'home' Perkins Brailler is a Classic Perkins Brailler that has been through many users.(it could be many years old)   We do not own its as it is on a long term loan from  NHAIM which is part of the New Hampshire Department of Education.
Abby's Classic Perkins Brailler
Its a well loved.  Abby has had this brailler since she was in first grade.  Abby really LOVES this brailler. The SMART brailler uses the next generation style of Perkins Braillers. They released this newer style a few years ago.
Perkins SMART Brailler
There is plus and minuses over both styles. The biggest complaint you will hear about a classic style braillers is that it is very heavy. (I bet one could be used as an anchor) The biggest complaint with the next generation style braillers  is that some of the plastic parts don't seem  as durable. The classic style braillers can take quite a beating.  At school Abby uses both a classic style Perkins brailler and manual next generation one.

So this was my first experiences using a next generation machine.  One of the features that next generation braillers have is a eraser function.  This caused a lot of excitement in the house. Abby didn't realize the next generation brailler at school had this same function.   
picture of the were the 'eraser' is on the SMART brailler.
This isn't the first time you can "erase" braille.  You could also use the scratch method or the much much more elegant and simple wooden braille eraser. The eraser on the next generation is still really really cool. Its easy to use and doesn't risk damaging the paper with the other methods.  It does a really great job pressing down the dots and when you use it on the SMART brailler is deletes it from the screen.

So I was playing around in the menus and noticed under apps it had the Building on Patterns–Kindergarten App.  The app is only available on the American Printing House version of the SMART Brailler.   I had a few questions about the app and I forward them to Perkins Products.
The Building on Patterns Kindergarten software will be included on units bought from APH.  This APH version is not available for sale yet, but we expect it to be soon.  SMART Braillers bought through Perkins do not have this software application included, but you will be able to purchase the software separately through Perkins Products and add it to your unit within the next few months. It will likely be around $199 to purchase the Building on Patterns Kindergarten software separately through Perkins Products. We are working on developing and offering additional software applications for children and adults, but they are not available just yet.
Welcome screen of the Building on Patterns K app.
 It has really interesting.  I just went into the first section and there was letter, word and sentence exercises. I will admit I had fun.  The app had both an audio and visual information.

 I caught on pretty quick that I could use contractions.
My son Sam took a video of me using the app.  The video also showed my goofiness.

Its important to say I have never had any formal training in braille. What I have known I have just picked up from helping Abby learn.  As a very beginning braille reader/writer I found the Building on Patterns–Kindergarten App pretty cool.  I also wonder if APH will consider putting the Building Patterns exercises in other formats too and provide higher levels.

Abby thinks the app is pretty cool too she just wishes it higher levels.  While it was right at my level she is a much higher level of a user. (I am so proud of her)

Whats next with our SMART brailler adventure?  Abby is taking it to school.

About the Perkins Smart Brailler:

About the Backpacking SMART Brailler Event on 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Perkins Smart Brailler: Sibling Time

I have a strong belief that braille can be fun for the whole family not just the blind child.  Many family members feel over whelmed with the idea of braille. Braille isn't scary. I really think braille would be an fun and educational if taught more to the mainstream education population.  Kids love secret codes.
Sam using Perkins Smart Brailler
My son Sam just got his hands on the Perkins Smart Brailler. Sam is almost 11 years old and is currently in the 5th grade. He is sighted and has only had a basic introduction of braille. (He understands the basic concepts)   I printed off the braille alphabet for him and a guide for what keys were which dots and he was independently typing out sentences right away in uncontracted braille. He knew RIGHT away when he made a mistake and he also knew right away when he did it correctly. He got great enjoyment writing about his new set of Legos. Again the visual display and audio feedback were very effective and useful.  
Sam using the Perkins Smart Brailler with a thinking pose.
Sam says "Well the Perkins Smart Brailler is cool and stuff." He wasn't that open to a video but I did snap some pictures. He seemed to have great fun with it.

Perkins Smart Brialler display with the word sam.

Next: The delete key....
About the Perkins Smart Brailler:

About the Backpacking SMART Brailler Event on 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Its Smart.... The Perkins Smart Brailler

Guess what showed up at our house today? A Perkins Smart Brailler.(  It is visiting us for two weeks before we send it on to the next family.  This is part of the the Backpacking Smart Brailler Event that Wonderbaby is having. The brailler is visiting 6 families.  We are family number two and I heard they  still  may be looking for families to take part. (there is some guidelines and rules)  find out more information here :

Abby using the Smart Brailler
The Smart Brailler spent time first with Kovacs family at the blog Thomas Marshall Does it All.

First impressions:  Abby knew what to do right out of the box.  It was very familiar to her being a  Perkins Brailler user for over 2 years.  Abby has a really old Perkins Brailler at home and two other models at school. She hasn't done the audio tour yet and has figured out most the basic operation already.  

Abby says "Its Cool! 

I will right much more later. I haven't even gotten my hands on it. It looks pretty neat. The display & audio  seems helpful to Abby and helpful to me too.  My son Sam is really interesting is giving it a try too.  
Here is a short video of Abby using the Smart Brailler.   I am sorry that you can hear my breathing in parts due to a wonderful spring cold. 
Check back in a few days for more blogs about our adventure with the Smart Brailler...  
Thank you to Wonderbaby for giving us this great opportunity.