Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Perkins Braillers from APH

Perkins Braillers: An Overview

If you were creating a list of classic American products, which products would make your list? Coca-Cola? Ford Motors? Burma-Shave? McDonalds? Certainly each of these companies and their products have attained a unique position in popular culture.

Add the Perkins Brailler to the list.

The Perkins Brailler has helped generations of blind and visually impaired individuals express the contents of their hearts and minds. It's been the braillewriter of choice at schools and among transcribers. Though first introduced in 1951, surprisingly few modifications have been made to the Perkins Brailler: the machine you use today is virtually identical to a Perkins Brailler your parent or grand-parent could have used.

How has the Perkins Brailler managed to remain relatively unchanged for all these years? Perhaps it's that the device's inventor, David Abraham, got it right the first time. Abraham invented a device that perfectly marries ease-of-use with tough-as-nails durability.


In some cases, the simpler the better. Abraham seems to have taken that maxim to heart when he designed the Perkins Brailler. The standard manual Perkins Brailler isn't equipped with a lot of bells and whistles. It sports nine individual keys: a Spacing Key, six Keys for dots 1 through 6, a Line Spacing Key and Back Spacing Key. Two side-knobs feed paper through the machine. There is a large Carriage Return Lever located above the row of Keys. Margin Stops let users set margins to their own preferences. A Bell sounds when the carriage is seven cells before the end of the line. And a grooved roller bar helps feed the paper without crushing the dots. The Perkins Brailler available for purchase through the American Printing House for the Blind weighs ten pounds. It has a cast aluminum case with a baked enamel finish.

In the Market for a Perkins Brailler?

If you are a student or teacher, you can purchase a Perkins Brailler through the American Printing House for the Blind. To do so, you'll need to contact your state's Ex-Officio Trustee. To locate the trustee for your state, follow this link to the APH Ex-Officio Trustee Directory. To learn more about purchasing a Perkins Brailler through APH, follow this link to the American Printing House for the Blind website.

You might also find used Perkins Braillers for sale in the Classified Ads of newspapers and at on-line auction sites (such as eBay).

Want to learn more about the Perkins Brailler and other braillewriters? Visit the APH Museum. The Museum has an extensive collection of artifacts relating to the education of the blind: its collection includes braillewriters dating back to the 1890s.

APH's Perkins Brailler® -- The Next Generation

APH's Perkins Brailler

The classic Perkins Brailler® has been reimagined, retaining all the attributes that make it the most widely used braillewriter in the world. The Next Generation™ Perkins/APH Brailler is quieter, lighter, and more comfortable for brailling. It includes functions that YOU asked for: a built-in eraser, a way to read the page easily while writing, a shorter keystroke requiring less force, and margin guides on the front. And there's more...the Perkins/APH Brailler features a sleek design with tactile elements, environmentally-friendly materials, and an APH Blue color.

  • Lighter and smaller: Easier to hold and carry
  • Quieter: The keystroke noise is reduced, end-of-line bell is audible but muted
  • Gentle Touch Keys: Less force required, keys are lower and easier to reach
  • Easy-Erase Button: Push to erase an entire braille cell
  • Easy-Grip Handle: The Brailler base is also a handle
  • Reading Rest: The back panel can be raised to provide a flat surface for reading the page
  • Front Panel Margin Guides: Easily accessible; no more reaching around the back
  • Highly durable: Metal inner frame and parts, and high-impact polycarbonate outer shell
  • Paper-Feed Knobs: Easier to hold and turn
  • High contrast colors between keys and Brailler body for low vision users
  • Environmentally friendly: Uses less oil and recyclable plastic
  • Sleek design with tactile-friendly materials
APH's Perkins Brailler, rear view

Weight: 25% lighter than the Classic Perkins Brailler
Dimensions: 12"L x 10"W x 6"H
Paper Size: 8 1/2" x 11" (max. 8 1/2" x 14"), 28 cells

APH Perkins Brailler Quickstart Instructions

An audio enhanced PowerPoint presentation, The APH Perkins Brailler Quickstart Instructions, is now available on the APH website under the heading of Products. This joint effort of Perkins and APH is designed to assist you in understanding the operating differences between the "Classic" Perkins brailler and the new Perkins/APH "Next Generation" brailler.

We hope this brief presentation gives you just the right information to have the most successful experience with this exciting product.

Special Web Page Celebrates the New "Next Generation" Brailler

Hear the specially written song NEXT GENERATION by Raul Midón at and learn more about the new Perkins/APH Brailler.

Click this link to watch a video about this new brailler

APH Blue Model:
Catalog Number: 1-00800-00
Click this link to purchase the Perkins-APH Brailler.

APH Light-Touch Perkins Brailler

NEW! APH Light-Touch Perkins Brailler

This new manual brailler keeps all of the great features of the classic Perkins Brailler, but adds several enhanced features:

  • 1/3 less pressure required to depress keys
  • New ergonomic extended key design to increase usability and comfort
  • Exclusive Sapphire Blue color
  • Light gray keys provide contrast against blue frame

The APH Light-Touch Perkins Brailler preserves the qualities you love about the classic Perkins Brailler:

  • Durability
  • Reliability
  • Ability to braille wide paper
  • New ergonomic, light-touch keys
  • Keys are made of high-impact plastic
  • Emboss paper up to 11 1/2 wide x 14 inches long
  • Emboss 25 lines of up to 42 cells when using 11 1/2 x 11 inch paper
  • Durable baked enamel finish
  • Tough aluminum frame
  • Measures approx. 13.7 W x 9.2 D x 5.7 H
  • Weight: 10 lbs.
  • Brailler
  • Wooden dot eraser
  • Protective dust cover with cutout for the brailler handle
  • Large print/braille instructions
Catalog Number: 1-00815-00
Click this link to purchase the APH Light-Touch Perkins Brailler.

Recommended ages: 3 years and up.

Note: Young children should be supervised during exploration and pre-braille activities.

Note: This manual brailler IS available with Quota funds.

Electric Perkins Brailler

Perkins Brailler: Light-Touch Electric, Blue

This precision-made brailler, in use for over 50 years, is now available in an electric model! The electric Perkins allows you to produce braille with minimal effort and for longer periods of time.

The Perkins will accommodate paper up to 11 1/2 x 14 inches and embosses 25 lines of 41 cells on 11 1/2 x 11 inch paper. Frame is aluminum, keys are high-impact plastic. Includes cover, braille eraser, and braille quickstart instructions. Comes in classic gray. Recommended ages: 3 years and up. Note: Young children should be supervised during exploration and pre-braille activities.

Electric Perkins Brailler
Catalog Number: 1-00860-00
Click this link to purchase the Perkins Brailler: Light-Touch Electric, Blue from APH.

American Printing House for the Blind, Inc.
1839 Frankfort Avenue
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 6085
Louisville, Kentucky 40206-0085
Toll Free: 800-223-1839
Phone: 502-895-2405
Fax: 502-899-2274
Web site:
APH Shopping Home:

APH 150th Anniversary Essay Contest

Listen to Narrated Excerpt
First Place Winner: Grades 6-8
Alex Folo


As I go through my school day, I take for granted that I can complete all of the assignments of the day with little or no assistance. But when I look at it, without American Printing House's devices, I would have much difficulty going through my day.

When I wake up in the morning and open my large Braille folder for school, I am using an American Printing House product without even thinking about it. First period when I have to write Spanish letters, I am also using a device from APH, the Perkins Braille Writer. Without this device I would not be able to complete math or Spanish. It helps me by producing Braille dots as I type on Braille paper (from APH as well). Before I started using technology, I used this device for every subject.

During math, I use a talking calculator. This device helps me by speaking the numbers in the calculator which allows me to use a calculator like my sighted peers. In every subject I read Braille books and materials to complete assignments. Braille books are vital to my education and without them; there would be no way for me to access the materials to learn. I believe that this is the most important item provided by APH. Having books available to read is also important to my enjoyment. Books can make you laugh, cry, feel sad, happy or about any other feeling you can experience. They are an important way that humans learn about the world around them. I am fortunate to be able to have the same materials as my sighted peers to read and learn.

The American Printing House also provides technology that I use. An important tool I use is audio recordings. The narrators at APH make this possible by offering their time to record my textbooks so I can keep up with my class work. Audio books and Braille books are the two most important devices that I use in my education.

These are just a few of the devices I use provided by APH. I could name hundreds and they have all affected my life. Without them, I could never be where I am today.

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The American Printing House for the Blind (APH) makes every attempt to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the data contained in the Fred's Head articles; however, APH makes no warranty, guarantee, or promise, expressed or implied, concerning the content or accuracy of the information provided in Fred's Head. APH does not endorse any technique, product, device, service, organization, or other information presented in Fred's Head, other than products and services directly offered by APH.

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