A Guide to Choosing the Best Braille Keyboard for You 2024

A Guide to Choosing the Best Braille Keyboard for You 2024


Braille keyboards are amazing technology for blind people and yes many of us are sleeping on the innovation. Many visually impaired people struggle with typing on their phones or tablets and Braille keyboards can be the perfect solution to this.

In this article, we'll explore what Braille keyboards are, how they work, and the various models available. Whether you're considering learning Braille or seeking the best keyboard for your smartphone, tablet or computer, we'll help you understand your options and make an informed choice.

Join us as we delve into the world of Braille keyboards.

What is a Braille Keyboard

A Braille keyboard is a specialized input device designed to enable individuals who are blind or visually impaired to type text and operate a computer or mobile device using Braille.

Unlike a standard keyboard that features letters, numbers, and symbols, a Braille keyboard uses keys that correspond to the six-dot cells of the Braille alphabet. This allows users to quickly and efficiently input text in Braille, which is then translated into visible text on the screen.

Braille keyboards can vary in design, from standalone devices that connect to computers via USB or Bluetooth, to integrated solutions like Braille stickers that transform regular keyboards into Braille-friendly interfaces. 

Generally speaking, this means that with a Braille keyboard, you can type any letter, number or punctuation mark with a combination of just 8 buttons.

For the high quality Braille keyboards - like the Hable One - you can even control your entire smartphone or tablet with these 8 buttons.

How does a Braille keyboard work?

A Braille keyboard enables you to type using the tactile system of Braille. The core of how Braille works involves a combination of six to 8 dots, which form different characters and symbols.

Each dot in a Braille cell corresponds to a specific key on the Braille keyboard. By pressing a combination of these keys, users can create any letter or symbol in the Braille alphabet. If you are new to Braille, we wrote an in-depth article about Braille that you can find here.

To use a Braille keyboard, the user presses combinations of keys that correspond to these six to 8 dots. For example if you press buttons 1,2 and 5 simultaneously on a Braille keyboard, you type the ‘h’.

Additionally you generally have buttons for the spacebar and backspace. Now for smart Braille keyboards, there is an additional use. Besides typing, it also allows you to control your screen reader, like VoiceOver for iOS or TalkBack for Android.

If we take the Hable One for instance, holding button 1, 2 and 5 for 1 second is a shortcut to return to the homescreen. Using the ‘h’ in Braille for ‘home’. 

All in all, a Braille keyboard allows you to control your phone, tablet or keyboard without touching the device itself. 

Why would you use a Braille keyboard?

Using a Braille keyboard offers several benefits, particularly for those who are visually impaired. Here are key reasons why one might opt for this specialized technology:

  • Portability: Braille keyboards tend to be much smaller than their QWERTY counterparts due to the reduced number of keys needed, making them more portable and convenient for on-the-go use.
  • Designed for Accessibility: These keyboards are specifically crafted for blind users, ensuring seamless interaction with screen readers and providing full control over their devices.
  • Speed and Efficiency: Users proficient in Braille can type quickly and efficiently, as the layout is optimized for their tactile reading skills. Especially with contracted Braille, where typing is faster.
  • Enhanced Privacy: Braille keyboards allow for private data entry, as the typed information is not visible on the screen but can be understood through tactile feedback, safeguarding user privacy.
  • Simplicity over QWERTY: For some individuals, Braille keyboards are easier to use than QWERTY keyboards because they have fewer buttons, reducing the complexity of typing.

Which Braille keyboards are there?

Braille keyboards are available in several styles, each tailored to the unique needs of its users. From innovative portable models like the Hable One to analogue solutions such as the Perkins Brailler, we'll explore a variety of these keyboards to help you find the one that best fits your requirements.

Perkins Brailler and Smart Brailler 

The Smart Brailler by Perkins offers a modern twist on the classic Perkins Brailler. It's lighter than its predecessor, making it more portable, and integrates with mainstream technology to save and transfer documents digitally.

It provides multi-sensory feedback, which is crucial for learning and engagement in educational settings. A downside with the Perkins Brailler is the size and weight of the device. It’s not as portable as other Braille keyboards.

Harpo Braille Pen slim

The BraillePen Slim is a compact and efficient Braille keyboard designed for ease of use with external devices. It operates via Bluetooth and is compatible with a variety of operating systems, making it a versatile tool for writing and navigation.

Its intuitive key combinations reduce the learning curve, and it comes with a durable leather travel pouch for mobility. The Harpo Braille Pen has a battery life of up to 12 hours. 

Hable One

Hable one and a smartphone

As one of the most innovative and user-friendly Braille keyboards on the market, the Hable One stands out for its portability, ease of use, and smart features.

Significantly smaller and lighter than traditional models, the Hable One fits easily into a pocket, making it the ideal choice for on-the-go users. It connects seamlessly to smartphones and tablets, enhancing accessibility with its intuitive design that simplifies navigation and typing.

Perfect for both new and seasoned Braille users, the Hable One promotes independence and efficiency in everyday tech interactions, embodying the latest advancements in accessibility technology.

The Hable One has a one month battery life if it’s used every single day. For more information, visit the Hable One homepage.

Should I learn Braille first?

Deciding whether to learn Braille before using a Braille keyboard is a common question. Braille keyboards, such as those used for computers, are designed to input Braille characters, making them a practical starting point for learning Braille writing.

The keyboards allow users to familiarize themselves with Braille characters and input methods, which are essential for effective communication. If you want to learn more about writing Braille, we wrote an extensive article on how to get started.

It's important to note, however, that using a Braille keyboard involves only the writing aspect of Braille. Reading Braille, which requires interpreting the tactile dots with your fingers, is a separate skill and tends to be more challenging.

For those interested in expanding their Braille skills beyond typing, we recommend exploring dedicated resources and guides.

For more comprehensive insights, you may find our guide on reading Braille useful. This articles provides step-by-step instructions and tips to master reading in Braille effectively.

The best keyboard for your smartphone

Choosing the best keyboard for your smartphone can be a pivotal decision, especially for visually impaired users. While traditional options like braille input devices, QWERTY keyboards, and large print keyboards each serve specific needs, the Hable One stands out as the optimal choice for enhancing smartphone accessibility.

The Hable One is a Bluetooth Braille keyboard that significantly simplifies mobile device interaction for the blind. Its compact, portable design means it can easily be used anywhere, from public transit to a quiet park bench.

Unlike other keyboards that require a stable surface, the Hable One allows you to control your smartphone with no table and while it stays securely in your pocket. This feature is invaluable for those who value discretion and mobility.

More than just a keyboard, the Hable One supports intuitive braille input and offers physical navigation buttons, making it the smartest, most user-friendly option available.

Its small size and light weight enhance its portability, ensuring it is the best keyboard for on-the-go smartphone use, catering specifically to the needs of visually impaired users.


What is the difference with Braille stickers?

Braille stickers are adhesive labels that can be attached to a standard keyboard, allowing it to function as a tactile guide for typing in Braille. However, they do not offer the same level of functionality or tactile feedback as a dedicated Braille keyboard, which is specifically designed for Braille input.

What is a Braille Display?

A Braille display is a device that connects to a computer or smartphone, translating text on the screen into Braille characters that can be read through touch. Unlike a Braille keyboard, which is used for inputting text, a Braille display provides output, allowing blind users to read text in real-time. 

How does a Braille Keyboard work?

A Braille keyboard allows users to input text by pressing combinations of keys that represent Braille characters. These keyboards typically have fewer keys than traditional keyboards, each corresponding to one of the six dots in the Braille cell, making them more compact and easier to use for those familiar with Braille. By pressing a combination of these keys, users can create any letter or symbol in the Braille alphabet. 

What is a good Braille keyboard for the computer?

There are several good Braille Keyboards for the computer. Think of the Orbit Writer, the Hable One or the Harpo Braille Pen. They offer Bluetooth connectivity, making it easy to pair with both desktops and laptops, and its portable design allows for efficient and comfortable typing in Braille.

Can a Braille keyboard be used on multiple devices?

Yes, most modern Braille keyboards, like the Hable One, are designed with versatility in mind. They typically feature Bluetooth technology, enabling them to connect with various devices including smartphones, tablets, and computers, facilitating seamless transitions between different devices.

Is learning to use a Braille keyboard difficult?

Learning to use a Braille keyboard can be straightforward, especially for those already familiar with Braille. These keyboards are designed to be intuitive and user-friendly, with layouts that closely mimic the Braille cell structure, making it easier for users to type efficiently after some practice.

In conclusion, Braille keyboards are an indispensable tool for the visually impaired, offering a gateway to more effective communication and technology use. From the tactile simplicity of Braille stickers to the advanced functionality of the Hable One, there is a Braille keyboard to suit every need and lifestyle.

The Hable One, in particular, stands out as a highly recommended choice due to its portability, ease of use, and seamless integration with multiple devices.

We encourage everyone, whether you're just starting with Braille or looking to upgrade your current setup, to explore the possibilities a Braille keyboard can offer.

Check out the Hable One and experience firsthand how this innovative tool can change your world. Give it a try, and discover the benefits of embracing Braille technology in your daily life.

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