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The Braille Metamorphosis has Begun

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Meet Monarch

APH is proud to introduce the Monarch, a revolutionary multiline braille display poised to transform the educational landscape for blind and low vision students. With its innovative design, the Monarch isn’t just a device; it’s a beacon of inclusivity, empowering students to thrive in classrooms where barriers once stood tall. Imagine the joy of exploring over 2000 searchable tactile graphics, igniting curiosity and fostering creativity like never before. For the first time in history, students can harness the power of a built-in graphing calculator to craft intricate tactile graphs, empowering students to grasp complex mathematical concepts with confidence. But the Monarch isn’t just about academic prowess – it’s about equality and independence. By dramatically reducing the time it takes to gain access to braille textbooks, it ensures that no student is left behind. With the Monarch, blind and low vision students are leaders in their own educational journey. It’s more than a device; it’s a key to unlocking a world of possibilities and paving the path to a future filled with limitless potential. Join us in championing inclusivity with Monarch.

The Monarch is a little under five pounds and roughly the size of a 15-inch gaming laptop. The device features an 8-dot Perkins braille keyboard, pan up/down buttons, direction pads, Android navigation keys, and a 10-line by 32-cell refreshable braille display, which can render lines of braille and tactile graphics simultaneously with 3,840 equidistant pins. In addition to gesture recognition, the Monarch also has the capability to connect to a visual display for collaboration with sighted teachers and peers. The cutting-edge visual braille output with finger-tracking technology provides opportunities for remote braille instruction that have never existed before the Monarch. This technology will bridge the educational gap for students along with the development of a new dynamic file type that will bring braille, tactile graphics, and navigation capabilities together in a single braille file. Learn more about eBraille.

Overhead shot of blonde boy in glasses exploring a tactile graphic of a Monarch butterfly rendered on the Monarch's surface.

Applications powered by HumanWare’s KeySoft Accessibility suite will be loaded onto the Monarch when you receive your device. A few of the apps i ncluded are KeyWord, a Word processor supporting MATH ML and .docx files; KeyMath, a graphing calculator created in partnership with Desmos that allows students to graph tactile functions on demand for the first time ever; Tactile Viewer, a tactile graphic viewing app which connects via WiFi to APH’s Tactile Graphics Image Library; and Victor Reader, which connects users to hundreds of literary titles.

At a long table, four people are focused on using Monarchs.

At the beginning of 2024, APH kicked off a series of five two-day Monarch Teacher Trainings hosted across the country. Here’s what participating teachers are loving about the Monarch:

  • His class was doing a unit on dinosaurs. I didn’t know that they had moved to a new unit, so I wasn’t prepared with dinosaur supports. I was able to quickly pull up several dinosaur TG’s from the TGIL already installed on our Monarch. As a dinosaur song played, we were able to keep up with the video with our graphics for each of the dinosaurs. The TGIL already pre-loaded saved the day! It was just so cool to have that at our fingertips in an instant!
  • It’s such an honor and privilege to have been part of this pilot training. I think we all had our doubts prior to the training about the efficiency of this device and are all leaving knowing this is really the future of our students. It makes me so happy to see we are one step closer to closing the gap between our students with visual impairments and the sighted world.
  • Being able to push into a math classroom and being able to provide graphics in the moment which the teacher creates on the board visually. We have worked together with the pre-calculus teacher to create graphs for sine, cosine, and tangent which were almost impossible to do before. The student is now able to input the equation with support, activate the graphing function, and be able to feel the graphic in the moment to explain it to myself and his educator.
  • It was such an honor to be part of the biggest development in the field in my lifetime!! I will do my best to pay it forward. You all are now a part of every lesson I ever teach and every life I touch.
  • Today we practiced writing his name on the Monarch. I gave him some headphones so he could hear the “voice” give him immediate feedback. He LOVED it! We got through all of our alphabetic wordsigns that he’s learned so far and then HE REQUESTED that we keep writing more words so we did some assisted free-writing…HOLY MOLY, WOW!!! I was holding back the tears. It’s taken us 18 months to get to this point. This was a big break-thru moment made possible thanks to the Monarch!

Check out what’s happening with our training events at our blog – Mastering the Monarch.

Together with our partners at HumanWare and the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), APH has created the Monarch, an unparalleled multipurpose device which revolutionizes the digital braille experience for blind and low vision users. APH and HumanWare have designed the specifications and user experience requirements and are equal investors in this project. NFB, the world’s leading membership and advocacy organization representing blind people, has played a critical role in bringing the customer voice into the project. This partnership has ensured that the Monarch will be powered by the people it serves. Nothing about us without us!

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