macOS High Sierra

About refreshable braille displays

If you connect a supported braille display to your Mac, VoiceOver detects it and sends it information about what’s displayed on the screen. You can connect multiple braille displays to your Mac; each display mirrors the same content at the same time, useful in a classroom setting. You can customize settings for your display in the Braille category of VoiceOver Utility, and set verbosity levels in the Verbosity category.

Uncontracted and contracted braille

By default, VoiceOver displays uncontracted (Grade 1), eight-dot braille. In this mode, VoiceOver automatically translates each character you type on your braille display into braille output, as you type it.

You can turn off eight-dot braille to use uncontracted, six-dot braille instead. In this mode, VoiceOver automatically translates each word you type on your braille display into braille output, after it determines you’ve completed a word or after you press the Space bar on your braille display.

You can also use contracted (Grade 2) braille. VoiceOver provides a seamless experience when you enter and edit text—your braille display shows the context of what you’re typing without dynamically switching to and from uncontracted braille.

Pan lines

A braille display typically describes the entire line where the VoiceOver cursor is focused. For example, when the VoiceOver cursor is focused on an item in a window, the braille device displays items like icons, checkboxes, and pop-up menus, as well as text to the left and right of the VoiceOver cursor.

If a line is too wide to fit on the braille display, you can “pan” the line using the left and right buttons on the display. Each left or right pan moves according to the number of cells (including status cells) your display contains. When you move the VoiceOver cursor, the braille display pans when necessary to follow it, even wrapping to the previous or next line.

Dots 7 and 8

VoiceOver raises dots 7 and 8 to indicate the position of the VoiceOver cursor and, when you edit or select text, the text selection. VoiceOver indicates the position of the text selection cursor, called the “I-beam,” by flashing dot 8 of the braille cell preceding the I-beam and dot 7 of the braille cell trailing it.

Status cells

VoiceOver uses three status cells to provide additional information about what’s on the screen. You can set the number of status cells that are used and their location on the braille display. For example, you can use the cell that shows text status and set its location to be on the left of your display.

You can use VoiceOver Utility to assign VoiceOver commands to keys on your braille display. For more information, see Assign VoiceOver commands to braille display keys.

If your braille display has a Perkins-style keyboard, you can type on it.