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:  http://www.perkins.org/smartbrailler/

About the Backpacking SMART Brailler Event on Wonderbaby.org: http://www.wonderbaby.org/articles/backpacking-smart-brailler-event 

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

april 27th

very cool guys!

keep up the nice posts

Jessica Umhoefer said...

Thanks for sharing, I have been wanting to see the Braille Writer in action! I am thinking it would be great for a couple of my Braille readers with additional disabilities.

Faye said...

Do you need to press the keys on the Smart Brailler as hard as you have to press them on the classic? Or is it more sensitive?

Penny said...

Faye,
All the next generation braillers use less pressure to press the keys. The SMART brailler being electric requires even less than the manual versions of the next generation braillers. There is also an electric non-SMART brailler option available.

Anonymous said...

After I requested many times,My 9 yr old Granddaughter is in a test program at her school using the Smart Brailler. How much skill is needed to use it? Are these kids learning at home on their own?Her Vision impaired Teacher has her convinced it is not as good as the Perkins Brailler. She says you cannot do Math on it? Maybe we could do it at home?

Penny said...

To answer the grandmother. The SMART brailler can do what ever a unSMART brailler can do. The SMART brailler just does more. The SMART brailler doesn't not read the nemeth code (the braille math code) you can still use it but the talking and visual features don't work for it. This is still a first Perkins next generation Brailler. The SMART features uses the literacy braille code. It could be the TVI doesn't feel the added features are not worth the price. Its really a case by case thing.

Rie said...

Thank you so much for sharing! So, do you have the APH version if you have the Patterns app installed? Trying to understand that. We might end up buying one but I want to understand which one we should buy. I love that it has a Patterns app!! We are homeschooling our (totally blind)6 year old daughter, and this is perfect timing for something like this to come out. I hope we are one of the families that's chosen to try it out.

Penny said...

Rie,
The SMART brailler i am using a demo from Perkins Products. Since it has the APH app on it its the APH version (which you can't buy yet but i imagine soon) Its also my understand if you buy it from Perkins Products there will be an option add the it when it becomes available. (its not an option to be available) Rie good look its would be great to hear this from the home schooler prospective.

Anonymous said...

May 1st 2013

Happy May day, enjoy the flowers!

from: Shayla

Rie said...

Thanks Penny, that answers my question! Thank you so much for posting about the brailler. Ever since I heard about it, I've been so excited about it!

Vada said...

This is cool!