Note taking for the blind on a budgetMost people have never considered how a blind person might take notes. If you couldn’t right it down, what might you do? There are various audio recorders for people who are blind, but once you have it in an audio format, what do you do next? You might need to transcribe the note on a BrailleWriter, or with a computer. Another option might be to use a Braille notetaker, which is like a screenless laptop or screenless pocketPC. Braille notetakers are VERY expensive. They start at $1,400 for the Braille+ and go up to well over $6,000. There’s a low cost option; the Netbook.
A netbook is a very small, light weight, laptop. Netbooks came on the market about three years ago, and have become very big sellers. At about two pounds, netbooks are easy to carry. They are slightly larger than a paperback book, and have matured into having generous keyboards, about 92% standard size. Some of the new netbooks have eight to ten hour battery life.
Certain netbooks are especially good for people with visual imparements. The HP mini and Acer Aspire netbooks have large keyboards with standard keyboard layouts while others have the right arrow just to the left of the very small right shift key. For the JAWS user, there are only four keyboard commands that need to be modified on a netbook. If one uses System Access or NVDA as their screen reader, no modification is necessary. At a price of around $300, the netbook makes a very attractive note taking possibility. I see no need for the $5000 Pacmate and other specialized devices when these netbook options are available.