Apple and Microsoft Help Create New Standard for Braille Displays

 A blind veteran learns computer skills at the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital in Hines, Illinois.
A blind veteran learns computer skills at the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital in Hines, Illinois.
Photo: Scott Olson (Getty)

Today, many people who are blind or have low vision must cobble together different hardware and software just to use computers. But a new standard backed by some of the biggest names in tech should mean that braille device users wont have to search for custom software for different operating systems and screen readers.


The USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) announced today that it has worked with technology leaders—including Microsoft, Apple, and Google—to create a new Human Interface Device standard for braille display. The standard is intended to make it easier for different operating systems and devices to include braille features.

“The new standard for braille displays will significantly narrow the gap in communication between people who are visually impaired, blind, or deaf-blind and their sighted and hearing counterparts,” said Joseph Bruno, president and CEO of Helen Keller Services, in a statement. “It allows these individuals to more seamlessly connect to their favorite devices, which is a major step in helping them connect to the world around them.”

USB-IF is a non profit formed in 1995 by several companies that developed the USB industry standard. The organization promotes adoption and implementation of USB technology and protocols.

Microsoft said in its announcement that it believes developers will start adopting the new standard next year.


Former senior reporter at Gizmodo



Good, because it might mean that someone will come up with a way to make an semi-affordable braille display.

A display that shows 80 characters is usually at least $3,000. Imagine having to press the “next” button just to see a whole (original-length) tweet.

There’s a “portable” model that can show 14 characters for just under $1k, but that’s about it. That means that words like “procrastination” would have to be hyphenated, because, well, it’s 15 characters long.