Hello everybody

OK, this came as a pleasant surprise on Friday. I’ve been loaned an ElBraille 
to play with by a local school’s V.I department who want me to conduct training 
after the summer recess with some of their 11 to 18-year-old students, to teach 
them how to use the platform.

As I say, I received this on Friday and my initial impressions are that I have 
made a great choice when opting to buy one of these things at the time of Sight 
Village in the UK when the price was reduced by £220.00 as a promotion by the 
UK dealership of Freedom Scientific.

Anyway, to the point. I am finding that the JAWS command set is really very 
easy to memorise. Navigation using Braille commands isn’t something I’ve done 
much of until now under Windows. But I can’t believe how easily I’ve taken to 
it, and although I’ve only had the thing for 72 hours or so, it’s already 
seeming like such a natural and easy way to work.

Regarding the device itself, it’s just over 7-and-a-half inches long by 4 
inches wide by 1.5 inches deep. The Focus 14 Blue fits snugly into the front of 
the device and, when it’s in its Eco-leather carry  case, the device and Focus 
just looks like one solid unit. There’s absolutely nothing clunky about it at 

The SD card and Micro-SIM cards are easy to access, as are the host USB 3.0 
port, mini HDMI slot, 3.5MM headphones/line out and Mic/Line in sockets.

Somewhat disappointingly, although definitely not a show-stopper, is that the 
mini HDMI interface does not appear to carry audio, although I will check that 
just to be sure. That would have been quite nice. I own a monitor with internal 
speakers which would have been terrific as a second sound device. But as I say, 
it’ isn't the end of the world if not.

The stereo speakers on the front of the device have a very nice sound to them, 
given the size of the device – much better than I was expecting. The systemic 
sounds and the vibration motor employ a totally separate system speaker, so 
that nothing interferes with audio playback. Speech is easy to disable and 
enable with just one keystroke.

The boot sounds, beeps and vibrations can be configured via the ElBraille main 
menu. Which is great for me personally. I often find myself working in 
environments where beeps and buzzes would be intrusive. So having the option to 
disable those is a plus.

The device takes about 20 seconds or so to boot from cold back into the Windows 
interface, and there is constant Braille and audio feedback throughout. In 
fact, the whole system is totally accessible. It comes supplied with an SD card 
backup of the base level system so that, should you find yourself really stuck 
and have to reinstall from the ground up, then you have a totally accessible 
means of doing so.

The ElBraille Emergency menu is reassuringly easy to access, and it’s 
self-Brailled and self-voiced. You do need to be careful if JAWS is running 
when you access that menu, as you’ll get double speech in that event.

Regarding network support, the device has full support for 802.11/a/b/g/N/AC 
protocols, with dual band 4.2 and 5.0GHz support.

The Windows interface is in no way hacked or cut down. It’s just like a 
full-blown system. When I get mine, I plan to upgrade the OS by changing the 
product key, assuming that is possible, to give me access to all features of 
Windows 10 Professional. That said, I’m not sure that is actually necessary any 
longer, but I’m already enquiring about that.

Battery life is truly, truly excellent! I have the device connected directly to 
a Bluetooth® speaker, and also to WiFi. The manufacturer’s claims of 17 to 20 
hours battery life, even under these conditions, are in no way exaggerated. 
Although I would obviously expect just a little less when connecting a USB 3.0 
hard drive and high speed high capacity SanDisc SD media. But assuming that 
reduces life to approximately 15 hours, I could quite happily live with that as 
it’s way in excess of a normal working day.

One very small gripe is that the divide is not chargeable via USB. That said, 
there’s no need for a USB client port, so I guess that functionality would be 

Office support has been extremely well designed. The ElBraille menu 
incorporates options for all Office 2016 (Office 365), 2013 and 2010 
applications. So it’s really a breeze to run your production tools and to 
access reading materials.

There is direct support for audio listening modes, and there’s no reason 
whatsoever why one cannot install recording software such as the very excellent 
Sound Forge Professional. JAWS and NVDA have very good support for that 
software anyway, although I would imagine that for really advanced editing such 
as multitrack projects, dedicated JAWS scripting would be required.

I have been asked whether NVDA runs on this device. My response at this time 
is, I don’t know. I am not fully convergent with the Braille command interface 
that NVDA supports. Since that support is screen-reader specific, I would need 
to make further enquiries regarding NVDA or, for that matter, any other 

The same is true of Supernova and System Access, although I believe that both 
do have direct Braille command support. In which case, there should be no 
issues constraining their use.

I personally could totally understand it if NVDA were problematic. Since this 
device is developed specifically by Elita, which is now a member of the VFO 
group, it seems reasonable to me that they would not provide documented support 
for a rival software title. Although the flip side of that particular coin is 
that, were they to do so, the ElBraille might sell to those people who, either 
voluntarily or otherwise, do not use JAWS. But that’s a question to which I 
have no answers just at the moment.

I plan to install the very excellent Vipre Internet Security on to my own 
device when that arrives. Although it has been claimed that such measures are 
not necessary because of the simple recovery mechanisms within the device, I 
would counter that claim by suggesting that if one’s external data files were 
to become infected with malware of any kind, then all the recovery in the world 
of systemic RAM would be totally vacuous. As soon as you went to access those 
data files again, you would find yourself in the same situation, once again 
stricken with malware. Prevention is, in my view, better than cure.

Finally, for the moment,, although there is only one onboard USB interface, I 
own a couple of high-speed 10-port USB hubs. I also own USB sound hardware, 
including a digital mixer desk. I use this when broadcasting or preparing other 
audio materials. When my own device arrives, hopefully, later this week, I 
shall be putting the ElBraille through its paces with software such as my 
personal favourite broadcast software, “RadioBOSS”, and also I will try the 
latest incarnation of Station Playlist Creator Pro to see how well it performs. 
But I’m confident that it will work just fine. And the ElBraille could find its 
way into my broadcasting environment as well.

All in all, I’m very favourably impressed with what I’ve seen of the device so 
far. There’s an ElBraille 40 under development at the moment which, so I am 
told, is scheduled for release in the last quarter of 2017. So when that model 
hits the streets, if the price isn’t too steep, I may just invest. I see so 
many uses for that, and I already have the Braille displays.

I will be happy to answer questions if anybody has any. I’ll also let the group 
know when my own model comes, so that I can start experimenting more with other 


My compliments and kindest regards
Gordon Smith:
Accessibility & Information Technology Support Specialist..

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