Tech Quadrant: Battle of the Braille Notetakers: Which One is Best for School?

Hello to all of you beautiful nerds and welcome back from traveling the vast nerd universe! It’s time for a technology post!

Battle of the Braille Notetakers: Which One is the Best for School?

As a Master’s student, being able to get through school with a powerful notetaker helps a lot. After having the BrailleNote Touch Plus and Braille Sense Six for two years, I have to say their power has helped me out so far. They both have the Android platform where the BrailleNote has Android 8 while the Braille Sense 6 has Android 10 and being able to use Blackboard and other apps for other tasks helped me out. Heck, I think my Six had a bigger workout with one of my final projects this semester that just ended. I bet you’re wondering, which one is best for the tasks in any college program? Let’s take a look, shall we? But first!


This post is based on experiences with the two devices that are being presented in this post. Please respect the thoughts from the writer of this blog. You have been warned!

Notes and Assignments

First up, I even asked this when being introduced to Braille devices in my old college days, how are they when it comes to taking notes and creating documents? Both do writing tasks pretty well. When I started in notetakers, I used a Braille Sense QWERTY Plus where I had a standard keyboard and this was way before Android was added. It made taking notes more convenient. With the switch to the Perkins Brailler style it brought a new learning curb for myself since I had to learn chords, especially with the ones on the BrailleNote when I got it all thanks to the FAAST loan here in Florida. When it comes to the BrailleNote, it gives you options as if you were on Microsoft Word such as Create, Open, Settings, and Emboss if you are in a place with an embosser for hard printed Braille. Once in the document, navigating is a little bit different since the only keys you have are the Perkins keys, cursor routing keys, and the thumb keys at the very front. What I like is that I don’t have to worry about hitting the Back key, which is the circle in the very center, like with my Chameleon at home or while being at conventions. Also, you could switch to touch braille with the touch screen as an option since the display what you’re writing from the tablet screen. When it comes to choosing formatting options, accessing the menu area with a simple chord opens it and allows different choices such as File Functions, Editing and Paragraph Styles. Good thing is that with most options like opening, creating new documents, etc. The chords are next to each option so you don’t always have to return to this dialog every time but there are times where it can be forgotten so it’s handy to go back into this dialog box when needed. While the Braille Sense Six, you have more keys at your disposal. Not only there are the usual Perkins Brailler Keys but also the Function keys which are F1, F2, F3 and F4. F1 acts as your main menu on a computer for the different programs like in the Windows Menu, F2 is your app functions such as File and Edit, F3 is Tab and F4 is escape. There are also two extra keys which are Ctrl and Alt but those are used on the Android side, which I will touch upon a little later.Even though getting to the Context Dialog on the Braille Note is handy but having the F2 key is bit easier since it brings a drop down list of the different options and get to learn the chords as well. Even though there are not many commands for formatting such as the bold and italics, they can be easily chosen from the layout dialog. I feel that the Word Processor has improved since its Polaris days and has been easier to use and being able to write a lot better. There is also, the Braille Sense has the Notepad app which can also take notes. I am thinking most of the time why have a separate word processor when the original one works well? I remembered when the Polaris Word Processor had issues where the cursor moved to a different part of the document and caused the user to type on top of something that was already there. H. I. M. S. decided to release Notepad as an answer. If the Six is out now, why keep it? Word Processor has improved and works well. Saving documents though, doing it on the Six is as if you’re saving on Windows where it’s easy to navigate with dot seven to change the saving destinations while on the BrailleNote, extra chords have to be used to navigate between drives and to save the document onto it with one more chord. The verdict here would go towards the Six. Yes, Notepad may not be necessary but it has improved with the Word Processor. Plus, saving on Google Drive gives it an extra leg if need be. I suggest having a big SD card just in case.

Accessing Reading Materials

One big thing about college is being able to read articles and textbooks for classwork. These devices have different options to do so. When a new BrailleNote Touch Plus is purchased, Dolphin Easy Reader Plus is installed on the device and a student can access multiple libraries for books, which includes Bookshare. WHile the Six, on the other hand, Bookshare Download is installed on the device. Users can have the book read out by the built-in voice or can read the book by touch. PDF files can also be read on both devices since they are the most used for articles in this format. Different apps can be downloaded from the Playstore for required reading such as Bookshare Reader for the BrailleNote Touch Plus, both are able to have Audible, BARD, and Play Books. The verdict in this category is both! Both devices are able to access many reading materials and reading apps to access articles and textbooks. I didn’t mention Kindle since I only could get it for the Braille Note and it only read one page but with the Six, it’s best to use it as a Braille device with a tablet or phone and read the Kindle books that way.


Depending on the school that the person is attending, it may use either Canvas or Blackboard. My school uses Blackboard so I will talk about using it with this app since it was available  on the Playstore for both devices.. I feel that both versions have a bit of a learning curb in navigation. First letter navigation can be used in the different tabs and pages to make it easier to get to your destination.. Uploading assignments was pretty easy since it allowed the user to access their device and the buttons are labeled well. I did like the idea of having the attempts being labeled as well to access the upload. The only thing that is different is posting on a discussion board.. I found that the buttons were labeled on the Braille Note’s version of the app while the buttons were not labeled on the Six. This was very confusing since I accidentally posted something three times due to not knowing what each button was and I had to guess where it was posted, not only did I play some process of elimination until I found it. This can pose a problem since buttons with labels are important when it comes to navigating a page with a screen reader. I had heard you can create labels for items and I wonder if I can do that on the Six but now I will have to guess. If you have a notetaker and go to a school with Canvas, how is the app on your device? Are the buttons labeled well? I would like to know. The verdict has to go to the BrailleNote Touch Plus due to how well the app’s labels are placed for buttons and navigating is great with first letter navigation. A user can also navigate with the touch screen if they want as well.

Which One Is the Best?

Both note takers are equally powerful in what they can do. The Six has a very good word processor since the Polaris and it is faster but the BrailleNote has its own power and versatility and is able to access different ways of reading. It’s hard to say which one would be best for school but I would say it depends which one would be best for yourself. I would say though that having the Braille Sense Six is a good start for beginners in Braille devices due to how easy the layout is and being able to have easy to read displays and use different apps as well while the Braille note is more advanced and have to learn the chords have different commands and key combinations from the Six itself. It’s best to see them in action and look at the features and make the decision for yourself.

Well, that completes this post! It felt good to talk about technology. If there is another technology topic I have not touched upon, you can leave a comment or email it to 

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: