There is usually one in every school. Or maybe just on everyone’s caseload. The lone blind kid who is super high functioning and keeps up with his or her peers in the classroom. But hard copy braille on demand is a challenge because he/she doesn’t need their own paraprofessional.
If that describes one of your students, this embosser may be a good investment.
The Juliet 120 from Humanware (formerly available through Enabling Technologies) has a lot of great features to recommend it. But probably the one that’s the most interesting is the ability to directly emboss files from a flash drive!
The Juliet 120 has a very intelligible female voice that guides one though the menu, so setup is relatively easy. Setting the machine for paper size and braille translation code is essential prior to using the device with DirectBraille (described below)
Another nice feature is that the buttons on the top of the machine have permanent braille markings. Also, there are significantly fewer buttons than previous models, so are easier to use and easier to teach students to use.
Finally, the device has “wizards” that guide the user through the process of setting up the unit’s various features. This is very helpful to those who have never used an embosser before or who are intimidated by the older and more complex embossers that had several different buttons and didn’t talk you through the process.
DirectBraille is the built in ability for the Juliet 120 to translate and emboss files in Docx, PDF, TXT, or Brf formats. Personally, I’ve only done this via a USB drive, but the unit is capable of embossing via Bluetooth and WiFi as well.
I’m sure I don’t have to enumerate the advantages here, but let me give you a couple scenarios:
Ricky is a bright fourth grade student in Mrs. Mertz’s class. Ricky is an excellent reader who loves using braille. One day, Mrs. Mertz gets a great lesson plan from Mr. Ricardo and all of the worksheets are in PDF format. The lesson is very relevant to what the students are currently studying, but only within a two day time window. Since she has other things coming up in her lesson plans, today is the best day to insert this new plan. But wait, Ricky’s TVI doesn’t have time to emboss this PDF for him! What can she do?
Well, if Mrs. Mertz had a Juliet 120 available to her, she could save the PDF on a flash drive, insert it into the unit, and use the menus to emboss the document
Will the braille be absolutely perfectly formatted? No. BUT Ricky is a good reader who can work his way around the formatting problems. Besides, he has exposure to other braille material that is produced by either specially trained school staff or professionally transcribed.
Miss Penny works with four braille reading students in a self-contained classroom. Instruction for each student is based on IEP goals as well as an alternate curriculum that is used throughout the district. The students, Leonard, Sheldon, Raj, and Howard, all function at different levels and need one on one assistance.
Much of what instruction happens the next day is based on how well students perform the previous day, so planning ahead is difficult. The teacher, Mrs Farrah-Fowler, is a very patient woman who has a tendency to use a lot of self-created materials or materials that are downloaded from Google Docs or found on professional lists (and sometimes Teachers Pay Teachers).
As you can imagine, this means that Miss Penny is always having to rush to adapt the materials Ms.Farrah-Fowler sends her. And since materials for Leonard might be vastly different from those of Raj or the others, this amounts to a lot of brailling. Add Sheldon’s autistic-like tendencies and Miss Penny is always busy providing one on one instruction and managing behaviors.
Having an embosser that she can simply “print to” without having to translate it is a huge time saver for her and ensures that the student get the materials they need to achieve their IEP goals and keep up in the curriculum.
In addition, Raj (who is very interested in outer space) likes embossing articles he finds online or embossing his work to proofread it in braille before submitting it to Ms. Farrah-Fowler. The simplicity of the Juliet 120 makes it significantly easier to help students be independent in the classroom
It should be noted that a Juliet 120 does NOT replace a transcriber or well-formatted braille, especially for younger students that really need to have exposure to these things in order to learn to emulate them.
I personally have installed drivers on my computer and embossed from Duxbury 12.2 with no issues. I can’t speak to other braille translation software, such as BrailleBlaster or any others being used around the country. It seems logical, however, that the same logic would apply to those programs as well.
I hope you are as excited about this new technology as I am! To me, the DirectBraille is enough to make me consider purchase of the device. However, there are other great uses for it as well. So keep an eye out for other articles in this series, which will include but not be limited to:
Part 2: Exploring the Juliet 120: Menus, Settings and Options
Part 3: Exploring the Juliet 120: Braille Settings
Part 4: Exploring the Juliet 120: Communications and User Settings