Can people read websites in Braille?

Person using a refreshable braille display attached to a computer

In recent years, the Braille system has gone through a digital transformation. Just 15 years ago, I learned to type in Braille using a Perkins Brailler, which was a mechanical hunk of metal that was closer to a typewriter than any form of modern technology.

Now though, Braille is a very modern form of communication. Braille displays can interface with computers and smartphones and Braille notetakers can effectively act as fully functioning computers, with Braille as the primary input and output method.

This raises an interesting question. How does someone use a website in Braille?

Firstly, what is Braille?

Braille is a tactile reading and writing system. It represents letters via a raised dot alphabet that people who are blind or visually impaired can read through touch. Braille can represent any language, and with practice, people can use Braille to read and write independently.

The Braille system was invented by Louis Braille and popularised by influential figures like Helen Keller.

You don’t need a screen to use websites in Braille

An important thing to remember is that Braille devices don’t usually display information visually. For example, if I go to a website on a Braille notetaker, all the content is shown in Braille for me to read. Someone may well be reading this blog post on a Braille display or notetaker right now, but they would read in Braille by feeling it, instead of reading it on a visible screen.

You navigate a website using the buttons on your Braille device, so in theory, you should be able to access any menus or other interactive elements on a website the same way any sighted user can.

Are all websites accessible in Braille?

Unfortunately, no. Because the underlying technology and source code is the same, if a website is inaccessible with a screen reader, it is also inaccessible via Braille.

From 2025, any organisation operating in the European Union must have an accessible website and mobile app. If they don’t, they may face litigation and financial penalties.

Braille is important for those who are blind, and hugely important for those with dual sensory loss such as deafness and blindness. Often, Braille is one of the only ways they can read or write independently. Our hope is that the incoming European Accessibility Act will mean people with disabilities are able to have the same level of access as everyone else to the wonderful information the Internet provides.

Do you want to know if your website is accessible in Braille?

If you want to make sure your website or mobile app is digitally accessible and complies with all the terms of the European Accessibility Act, we would be more than happy to help.

Send us an email or fill in our contact form, and let’s have a conversation.

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