For the first time, patented ATC (Active Tactile Control) Technology makes it possible to detect the tactile reading position on a Braille display in real-time. Even if more than one finger is touching the Braille output, ATC can detect the actual reading position reliably. The analysis of reading force characteristics, movements and reading speed applied to each tactile pin, detected by ATC, allow us to calculate the current reading position. The calculation is accurate for any reading style. To detect reading positions opens up new ways to control a device via connected Braille displays.
Patented ATC technology is exclusively available for the Handy Tech Braille displays Active Star, Active Braille and Modular Evolution.
ATC Assistive Functions
Knowing the reading position on a Braille display opens up new possibilities to interact with computers. Various actions can be triggered when the reading finger reaches a specific position on a Braille display. ATC can be used for a multitude of fields of application. Assistance for beginners learning Braille or providing additional information at specific reading position for professionals, are only two out of many possibilities. For blind computer users, ATC opens up new ways to operate a computer.
The most commonly used assistive function of ATC is the automatic scrolling. By reaching the end of the displayed text, the next line of the text will be displayed automatically on the Braille display. Especially when you read a lot of text on a Braille display, this function is a big help. On an ordinary Braille display it is necessary to navigate through a text manually using the navigation keys. When you read a book like “Gone with the Wind” on a 40 character Braille display you would have to reach for the navigation keys about 20 000 times before you reach the end of the book. ATC allows a continuous reading flow on the Braille display without the need of having to press any scrolling button.
Assistance for Various Reading Behaviors
To be able to analyze the reading position in various reading situations, ATC distinguishes four types of reading behaviors:
Reading: Common form of reading where the finger is moved from the left to the right.
Speed reading: more characters than a pre-set amount, e.g. 20 characters, are read per second.
Resting: the reading finger on a Braille character exceeds a set time, for example, 800 ms.
Backwards: reading finger moves from the right to the left.
Reading behaviors, detected by ATC, can be individually assigned to various assistive functions. To create your personal “reading” and “learning” profiles, simply adjust the reading-behavior settings in the setting dialog of the universal Braille driver as to meet your needs.
Speech Output Control
ATC allows coupling and controlling speech output via reading position. Three modes have been implemented so far:
- Spelling mode: corresponding letter of the touched Braille character will be read out.
- Speak word mode: word will be read out after the reading finger passed it on the Braille display; this is especially helpful when learning Braille
- Speed reading mode: as the first letter of a word is touched, the word will be read out
For experienced Braille readers, a set of advance assistance functions has been implemented. Background information about text attributes, like font size and font type, can be accessed using advanced functions, and changes in text attributes can be announced at the reading position. For example, if the texts attribute changes at the reading position from standard to bold, the assistive function will announce “bold”.
Interactive Learning with ATC
As ATC allows controlling a computer via reading position on a Braille display, it is an ideal tool for interactive learning. For example, speech output linked to the reading position on the Braille display will help to improve Braille reading skills intuitively.
In the personal profile “learning” within the universal Braille driver all interactive learning functions can be set according to a student’s individual needs.
A big plus when learning a new language is that, with ATC the voice out of read words can be delayed. A student can read a word out loud before the speech output announces it.
The positive effect of interactive learning with ATC can be enhanced by didactically structured lessons.
ATC allows assigning acoustic signals to pre-set reading behaviors. For example, a low signal tone could be assigned to “resting” and a high signal tone to reading “backwards”. Using this function, a teacher will always be aware of hiccups in a student’s reading flow.
A sighted teacher can follow up a student’s Braille reading behavior in real time on the ATC Braille monitor. Braille display output is depicted on the screen of a connected computer in a separate frame, the Braille monitor. Each Braille cell is represented by a rectangle in which the respective letter of the Braille output is displayed. The corresponding rectangle of every Braille cell touched on the Braille display is highlighted yellow. The detected reading position is highlighted in a different color, dependent on the detected reading behavior. Normal reading is indicated green, speed reading marked blue; resting is colored orange as backwards reading is colored red.
Analyzing the Reading Improvement
Using ATC, it is possible to save detected reading positions and reading flow in a Log file. You can save a student’s reading flow reading a specific text, or specify a timeframe in which detected information is saved. To analyze recorded Log files in details later on, use the ATC-LogAnalyzer.
The Active Tactile Control patent is registered for Handy Tech with the German patent and trade mark office at DE102004046526A1 "Tactil Control system". ATC (Active Tactile Control) is a registered trademark of Handy Tech.