Refreshable Tactile Computer Display for the Blind
To make computer systems accessible to visually impaired users, a tactile display with multiple tactile elements that can be touched by a user serves many purposes. A tactile display with two positions for the tactile elements (raised and lowered) can be used to form Braille characters that can be scanned by a trained user more rapidly than a speech synthesizer can pronounce the same material.
A tactile display with contiguous tactile elements that each can assume one of two positions can form raised ridges against a recessed background that can be used to present lines, curves and blocked areas of black and white graphics. A tactile display with contiguous tactile elements that can each assume multiple vertical positions can form variably raised ridges that can be used to present topographic information, such as the contours of a face or a relief map of a portion of the earth's surface. APL researchers have patented a method and apparatus for refreshable tactile output of information from a computer, which includes using a movement actuator. The method and apparatus allow a low cost, highly reliable movement actuator to be employed that does not substantially exceed the size of the tactile output area. This tactile display can be used to present Braille characters and other information with movable tactile elements that can be touched by a human user.
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