ElBraille FAQs

The ElBraille is a Windows 10 computer that is designed to seamlessly dock with a Focus 40 Blue 5th generation braille display to provide a compact and portable solution similar in appearance to other braille notetakers.

Instead of featuring a heavily customized interface built on top of an operating system, the ElBraille is a complete Windows 10 PC that uses JAWS for speech and braille output. While the ElBraille does offer some customization, including a special menu providing shortcuts to commonly used Windows apps and a specially designed application for taking notes, you can also run the same Windows 10 applications that you use on a desktop PC.

If you rely solely on speech and have no plans to learn braille, it may be more cost-effective to purchase an off-the-shelf laptop or tablet computer and install JAWS on it.

Even if you do not consider yourself proficient with reading Braille or using the Perkins-style keyboard, having access to a full Windows computer running JAWS that offers the portability of a braille notetaker can be beneficial. The ElBraille will help improve your braille skills.

You can choose whether JAWS sends its output as plain text (computer braille), uncontracted, or contracted braille based on your level of expertise. JAWS also offers a feature called Braille Study Mode, which is a tool for learning Braille symbols and contractions.

If you are working with a sighted instructor , you can connect to a monitor. This allows you to enter text into an application like Microsoft Word using the braille keyboard, and the instructor can see the text as it is typed to confirm you are entering it correctly. Your instructor can also use the JAWS Braille Viewer, a utility that provides on-screen textual representation of the output received on a refreshable braille display.

Depending on where you live and your employment status, state or federal agencies may be able to assist with the purchase of the ElBraille 40. Also, some companies are willing to help with the purchase to accommodate their employees.

If you are a teacher or parent of a student who uses Braille, you could approach your local school district or university about purchasing the ElBraille. Non-profit groups also help obtain assistive technology for qualifying individuals.

The ElBraille features a tiered pricing structure, depending on which products you currently own.

  • If you purchase the full ElBraille 40 package which includes the ElBraille unit, Focus 40 Blue 5th generation braille display, and a JAWS license, the total cost is comparable to other 32 and 40 cell braille notetakers.
  • If you already have a JAWS license, then you only pay for the ElBraille unit and Focus Blue display. This lowers your cost a bit, as you will activate your current JAWS license on the ElBraille.
  • If you already have a JAWS license and a Focus 40 Blue 5th generation braille display, the cost is significantly lower as you only need to purchase the ElBraille itself. Once you receive the ElBraille, you will dock it with your Focus display and activate your JAWS license on the unit.

Yes, there would be no need to purchase a separate notetaking device. All you need to do is dock your student’s Focus 40 display into the ElBraille, activate a JAWS license on the unit, and your student will have a fully portable computer with access to the same applications as their sighted piers for collaborating in the classroom or completing assignments at home. If assistance is required from a sighted teacher or parent, a USB or wireless keyboard along with a monitor can be connected and the ElBraille used just like any Windows computer.

Technically, you could connect a standard USB or wireless QWERTY keyboard to the ElBraille and use it like any Windows computer. However, this would defeat the primary purpose of the ElBraille, which is controlled directly from the Focus display and docks inside the unit for maximum portability. If you are not interested in using a braille display, it would be more cost effective to just purchase an off-the-shelf laptop and install JAWS on it.

See the ElBraille User’s Guide for the location of ports and controls.

The ElBraille comes with a carrying case and a shoulder strap.

Yes. All ports and controls on the ElBraille and Focus display can be accessed while the unit is in the carrying case. The only time you need to remove the ElBraille from the case is when you need to undock the Focus display.

Not currently.

No. The ElBraille has been specifically designed to dock with the Focus 40 Blue 5th generation Braille Display.

The ElBraille contains a 7th generation Intel® Core™ i5-7Y57 Processor with vPro technology Dual-core (4M Cache, up to 3.30 GHz).

The ElBraille has 8 GB of RAM.

The ElBraille includes a 128 GB solid state drive (SSD) for internal storage.

The ElBraille supports wireless WLAN802.11 A/B/G/N/AC networks using both 2.4 and 5 GHz.

The ElBraille also includes a built-in 4G LTE modem for cellular connectivity. Currently, only the AT&T cellular network is supported.

The ElBraille User Guide contains instructions for connecting to both wireless and cellular networks.

You can connect the ElBraille to an HDMI monitor over a Windows Miracast Wi-Fi connection using an optional HDMI dongle (not included).

Yes. You can use a standard QWERTY keyboard to operate the ElBraille just as you would with any other Windows computer.

The ElBraille supports Bluetooth V4.2 and can be paired with most devices, including a keyboard, mouse, headphones, and external speakers.

You can find complete instructions along with pictures on docking or undocking the Focus 40 Blue in the ElBraille User Guide.

There are several ways to do this. One of the fastest is to press and hold the Menu button on the Focus display and then press DOT 1 through DOT 5 to switch to one of the five Bluetooth connections, or press DOT 8 to switch to the USB connection. For example, if you want to switch to displaying information from your iPhone and this is your only Bluetooth device paired with your Focus, press and hold the Menu button and then press DOT 1 to switch to your phone. When you are done, press and hold the Menu button and then press DOT 8 to switch back to the ElBraille connection. For more information, refer to the Focus User Guide.

You can also use the Focus Blue as a braille display for another computer while still docked in the ElBraille. To do this, connect the ElBraille to another computer using the USB-C port located toward the back on the right side of the unit. Once connected to another PC, press and hold the E6 button to toggle the Focus between the ElBraille and the other PC connection. Pressing E6 announces the current braille display connection status. Refer to the ElBraille User Guide for more information.

You can activate the Focus Scratchpad at any time by pressing and holding the Menu button and then pressing the letter N (DOTS 1-3-4-5). You can also press the Menu button once to display the Focus status message and once more to open the display’s configuration menu where you can configure Focus specific features. For more information on using the Scratchpad and other functions, refer to the Focus Blue User Guide.

Use the included AC adapter to charge the ElBraille. The unit emits two ascending tones and vibrates when the AC adapter is connected and emits two descending tones and vibrates when the adapter is disconnected. It takes approximately five to seven hours to fully charge the unit. If the ElBraille is on, press the E2 button to check the battery charge level.

Yes. You will receive vibration alerts as well as auditory beeps as the ElBraille boots up or shuts down.

From a full charge, you should get approximately 15 hours for typical usage. This would easily get you through a full school or workday.

You can use the two USB 3.0 ports on the ElBraille to connect a thumb drive or external hard drive. The ElBraille also includes an SD card slot which supports SD, SDHC, and SDXC memory cards up to 2 TB capacity.

The ElBraille offers a Rescue menu, which provides speech and braille output even if JAWS is not currently working correctly. To open the Rescue menu, press and hold the E1 button. You will hear a beep followed by a menu containing three items: Restart JAWS, Shut Down, and System Reboot.

Use the NAV Rockers to navigate the menu and press the LEFT NAV Mode button to activate the selected item.

To close the menu, press RIGHT SHIFT+DOT 1.

Alternatively, you can use the Volume Up/Down rocker to navigate, the E4 button to activate an item, or E1 to close the menu.

JAWS will already be installed on the ElBraille when you receive it, but it will run in 40-minute mode. You will need to activate your JAWS license on the ElBraille.

To activate JAWS, make sure your ElBraille is connected to the Internet, navigate to the JAWS Help menu, expand the License submenu, and then do one of the following depending on your license:

  • If you have an annual license, select Manage License on Portal to open the Freedom Scientific Licensing Portal where you can log in and activate a license on your ElBraille.
  • If you have a perpetual ILM license, select Update Activation and follow the prompts to activate an ILM license on your ElBraille.

BrailleIn™ is a feature that allows you to use the Perkins-style keyboard on your Focus 40 Blue braille display to control the ElBraille. It is the primary method for operating the unit. All Windows and JAWS commands you would typically perform on a regular QWERTY keyboard can be executed using the keyboard and other controls on the Focus.

You can also enter text in relevant computer applications using contracted and uncontracted braille. For more information on BrailleIn, refer to the Braille Commands web page.

A chord is a command executed by pressing one or more keys simultaneously with the spacebar.

Yes. Press QUESTION MARK CHORD (DOTS 1-4-5-6) simultaneously with the SPACEBAR to turn on JAWS Keyboard Help Mode. You can then press any of the Focus controls or key combinations to learn what they do.

You can also use JAWS Command Search to find specific commands. Press INSERT+SPACEBAR followed by J (DOT 8 CHORD, followed by the SPACEBAR, and then J) to run Command Search, then type the command you’d like to find.

By default, pressing RIGHT SHIFT+M activates Speech On Demand, which restricts speech to a limited set of JAWS reading keystrokes. Speech On Demand is ideal for braille users who find too much speech overwhelming, but still want speech for certain tasks like reading a window title, checking the time, speaking the current character, line, sentence, or paragraph.

While Speech On Demand is active, press INSERT+SPACEBAR (DOTS 2-8 CHORD followed by SPACEBAR) and then SHIFT+S (DOTS 2-3-4-7) to completely mute speech. Press RIGHT SHIFT+M again to switch back to full speech.

When Braille Study Mode is on, press the Cursor Router button directly above a cell for JAWS to announce the current braille character. When you press a Cursor Router button in conjunction with the Left or Right Selector button, JAWS will announce and spell the braille word at that cursor location.

Reading text in documents is done using a series of chorded commands. If you have used other braille notetakers in the past, some of these may look very familiar. Some basic reading commands include:

Reading Command Action
Say Next or Prior Character DOT 6 CHORD or DOT 3 CHORD
Say Character DOTS 3-6 CHORD
Say Next or Prior Word DOT 5 CHORD or DOT 2 CHORD
Say Word DOTS 2-5 CHORD
Say Next or Prior Line DOT 4 CHORD or DOT 1 CHORD or Left Rocker Bar Down/Up
Say Line C CHORD (DOTS 1-4 CHORD)
Move to Top of File L CHORD (DOTS 1-2-3 CHORD)
Move to Bottom of File DOTS 4-5-6 CHORD
Say All DOTS 1-2-4-5-6 CHORD

For a complete list of commands, visit our Braille Commands web page.

Chorded commands can be used to select text in documents. These commands are executed by simultaneously pressing specified braille keys with the SPACEBAR. Here are common selection commands. Additional commands can be found on our Braille Commands web page.

Selection Command Action
Select Prior Character DOTS 3-7 CHORD
Select Next Character DOTS 6-7 Chord
Select Prior Word DOTS 2-7 Chord
Select Next Word DOTS 5-7 Chord
Select Prior Line DOTS 1-7 Chord
Select Next Line DOTS 4-7 Chord
Select from Start of Line K+DOT 7 Chord
Select to End of Line DOTS 4-6-DOT 7 Chord
Select from Top DOTS 1-2-3-7 Chord
Select to Bottom DOTS 4-5-6-7 Chord

The ElBraille buttons offer shortcuts to certain commonly performed actions. Following are the default assignments:

Button Action
E1 Open ElBraille Main Menu
E2 Report battery status
E2 wireless network connection status
E3 Report current time
E3 Press twice quickly to report current date
E4 Start ElNotes or create a text note
E4 Press and hold to record a voice note
E5 Not assigned
E6 Report current braille display mode
E6 Press and hold to toggle the braille display mode
E7 Not assigned

You can assign each button to a different action using the ElBraille Keyboard Editor, which is located under ElBraille Utilities in the Main Menu. Access the Main Menu by pressing E1.

Yes. You can install and use Office 365 applications including Word, Outlook, Excel, or PowerPoint on your ElBraille. Once installed, a Microsoft Office submenu will be added to the ElBraille main menu, which is accessed by pressing the E1 button.

You can use any Windows-based web browser on the ElBraille. Note that JAWS offers the best support for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge Chromium.

Any recording or audio playback apps you might be using with JAWS on your Windows desktop or laptop PC will also work on the ElBraille. The ElBraille includes an internal microphone or you can use an external mic.

Yes, websites like YouTube and Netflix work well with JAWS. You also can find apps for playing various types of content in the Microsoft Store.

Yes. You can access your favorite social networking service using your preferred web browser, or you can use their app if it is available for Windows. Most social networks offer a link to download their app on their website.

Yes. For example, you can read DAISY content obtained from sites like Bookshare.org using the FSReader software included with JAWS. You can also use apps such as Adobe Reader or Amazon Kindle for PC with the ElBraille.

The ElBraille includes an application called ElNotes, which is used to create text and voice notes. It can be launched by pressing the E4 button. Pressing and holding the E4 button lets you quickly create a voice note.

Not currently.