A BrailleNote Apex and an iOS Device, a Winning Combination!

All of Apple's iOS devices, (iPod touch, iPhone and iPad,) have built in braille access when using the VoiceOver screen reader.  Utilizing this braille access allows a user to receive braille output on a supported braille display, and if the display has input keys, one can actually control the iOS device without ever touching the device's touch screen.

HumanWare's BrailleNote Apex provides its proven suite of KeySoft applications, perfect for note taking in meetings or class, instant email or web connectivity, and braille access to thousands of eBooks.  As a stand alone digital braille assistant, the BrailleNote Apex's applications have been providing user's efficient information management for over 10 years.  Combine this success with the accessibility of an iOS device, and the result is a winning combination.

The braille terminal application allows the BrailleNote Apex to function as a standard braille display, capable of connecting to an iOS device via its bluetooth connection.

Once the two tools are paired, the Apex can be used to produce braille output, along with providing control over the iOS device without using the touch screen.  Users have the capability to:

  • Navigate all applications on the Home screen
  • Select items
  • Enter text into any editable applications such as text messages, emails, note files, etc, using the Apex's  ergonomic braille input keys.  Text can be entered in contracted or uncontracted braille. 
  • Read in braille from all accessible applications, including reading books from the iBooks application.
  • In short, anything that could be accomplished with VoiceOver via the touch screen can be accomplished using the Apex's input keyboard.


Enabling the Apex's Terminal application

Before the Apex can be used in conjunction with an iOS device it must be placed in the Braille Terminal mode. This mode puts the Apex into a state to receive information from connected devices with braille support. To enter the braille terminal mode:

1. From the Main Menu, press t to open the Braille Terminal.

 Enabling the Apex's Terminal application step 1

2. You will be prompted “Braille terminal port?”. Press b to select Bluetooth, then press Enter.

 Enabling the Apex's Terminal application step 2

3. If bluetooth was not enabled, the Apex will say "Starting Bluetooth," followed by a beep. If bluetooth was already enabled, the Apex will simply make a beep sound and "braille terminal," will be displayed on the screen.

4. If using an Apex with a QWERTY keyboard, press function key together with b to enter braille keyboard mode. This mode allows you to control the iOS device using the home row keys of "asdf and jkl;," to execute standard braille keystrokes.

The Apex is now ready to work with the iOS device!

Finding the Apex with the iOS device

Now that the Apex is in the Braille Terminal mode, the IOS device needs to find and pair with it. Follow the below steps to utilize the Apex as a Braille Terminal for an IOS device

1. Tap on the settings application from the Home screen.

Finding the Apex with the iOS device step 1

2. Tap on "General."

Finding the Apex with the iOS device step 2

3. Towards the bottom of the screen tap Accessibility.

Finding the Apex with the iOS device step 3

4. Tap on VoiceOver. Make sure it is enabled.

Finding the Apex with the iOS device step 4

5. Double Tap on Braille.

Finding the Apex with the iOS device step 5

6. If bluetooth is not enabled Double tap "Yes," to enable it.

Finding the Apex with the iOS device step 6

7. Double Tap the Apex when displayed in the list.

Finding the Apex with the iOS device step 7

8. Quickly enter in the passcode of 0000 and double tap the "Pair," button in the upper right corner.

Finding the Apex with the iOS device step 8

9. The Apex will now show as paired in the list of braille devices and the IOS device can now be controlled by the Apex's input keyboard. The Apex's braille display will represent in braille everything that is spoken by the VoiceOver screen reader. Note that if the IOS device is locked, pressing the Home button on the IOS device will unlock the device and the Apex will automatically reconnect to it as a braille device.

Finding the Apex with the iOS device step 9


BrailleNote Apex iOS command List

The below list describes all commands for the Apex to effectively control an iOS device.

Basic navigation commands

Space with Dot 1 or Outer Left Thumb Key (F1) Move to previous item
Space with Dot 4 or Outer Right Thumb Key (F4) Move to next item
Space with Dot 2 or Inner Left Thumb Key (F2) Pan Braille to the left
Space with Dot 5 or Inner Left Thumb Key (F3) Pan Braille to the right
Braille display Routing cursor or Space with Dots 3-6 Double-tap the selected item
Inner Left Thumb Key (F2) + Inner Right Thumb Key (F3) Activates the Home button
Inner Left Thumb Key (F2) + Inner Right Thumb Key (F3) twice Activates task switcher
Space with Dots 1-2-3 Move to the first element
Space with Dots 4-5-6 Move to the last element
Space with Dots 2-4-6 Scroll left one page
Bypass command (Space with Dots 4-5-6-8), Space with O Scroll right one page
Inner Right Thumb Key (F3) + Outer Right Thumb Key (F4) Activates the Return key
Space with B Activates a Back button if present

Reading commands

Space with Dots R Read page starting at selected item
Space with W Read page starting at the top
Space with Dots 1-4-5-6 Scroll down one page
Space with Dots 3-4-5-6 Scroll up one page
Space with P Pause or Continue speech

Information commands

Space with S Go to the Status bar
Space with K Start VoiceOver help
Space with B Quit VoiceOver help
Space with Dots 3-4 Speak page number or rows being displayed

Rotor commands

Space with Dot 3 Move to previous item using rotor setting
Space with Dot 6 Move to next item using rotor setting
Space with Dots 2-3 Select previous rotor setting
Space with Dots 5-6 Select next rotor setting

Edit commands

Space with Dots 2-5-6 Select text
Space with Dots 2-3-5 Unselect text
Space with X Cut
Space with C Copy
Space with V Paste
Outer Left Thumb Key (F1) Inner Left Thumb Key (F2) Activates the Delete key
Space with D Activates the Delete key
Space with Dots 2-3-4-6 Redo
Space with Dots 2-3-5-6 Select all

Miscellaneous commands

Space with Dots 3-4-5 Activates the Volume Up button
Space with Dots 1-2-6 Activates the Volume Down button
Space with M Toggle speech on and off
Outer Left Thumb Key (F1) + Outer Right Thumb Key (F4) Toggle Screen Curtain on and off
Space with G Toggle contracted and uncontracted Braille
Status Routing cursors (Applies to displays with status cells) Toggle expanded status description
Space with T Activates the Tab key
Space with Dots 1-2-5-6 Activates the Shift with Tab keys
Space with N Toggle announcement history