Flashcards for Sighted Users

Shodor has developed a Java Program called Braille Flash Cards. This program is used to help sighted people learn how to use Braille efficiently. The steps below will aid in accessing the program and running it. The program and an icon will be installed on your computer.
  1. To get to the program go to www.brl.org. This is Shodor's online braille website.
  2. When you get to that site, scroll or tab down until you get to the links"Flashcards". Click the link and then click the link "Braille Flashcards for Sighted Users."
  3. Read this page carefully, for it has the Hot Keys for the Braille applications as well as the File input/output and application key commands. After reading these, scroll or tab down to the link that says "Launch Braille flashcards." Click either the link or the button below the link that says "Launch." The program will be installed on your computer and an icon will be placed on your desktop.
  4. A window appears and asks you if you trust the certificate. From this window you also have the option configure your Java environment to always trust applications signed by Shodor. The method to do this depends on your operating system. Select "Run" and the program will open.
  5. There are three pull down windows to customize the flashcard applet. They are used for selecting the grade level, maximum word length, and maximum time allotted per word.
  6. Select a grade level by clicking the "Select Grade Level" button.

    -Grade 1 (Uncontracted) is a direct substitution of normal print letters for letters from the braille alphabet.

    -Grade 2 (Contracted) consists of the 26 standard letters of the alphabet, punctuation and contractions.

  7. Set a maximum word length by selecting the "Select Maximum Word Length" button. The minimum word length is 5 letters and the maximum is 12 letters.
  8. Select a time limit for you to answer the questions by using the "Select Time Limit" button. The minimum time to answer a question is 30 seconds and the maximum is 60 seconds. You also have the option to choose to have no time limit.
  9. To start the flashcard applet, click "Ready" and the dot pattern for your first vocabulary word will appear in the red boxes.
  10. Type your answer in the box located next to the "Ready/Answer" button before your allotted time runs out. Once you have completed typing your answer click "Answer". The correct answer will then appear below in a gray box. It will tell you if you answered the question correctly or incorrectly.
  11. Click "Ready" again to start a new word.
  12. If the time runs out before you get an answer, the display should show "Out of Time!" and give you the word that you are looking for. For a hint of the answer, while the timer is still going, click the "Show Dot Pattern" check box.

    (Alternate Options)

  13. If you would like the word to appear in print each time before and after you enter your own answer select the "Show Word" button.
  14. If you would like the word's dot pattern to appear before and after you enter your own answer select the "Show Dot Pattern" button.
  15. To see the dot pattern of a word of your choice, type the word in the text box located under "use this word" and click "ready". The Braille dot pattern will appear in the red boxes at the top of the screen.
  16. You can create your own custom word libraries for Uncontracted (Grade 1) and Contracted (Grade 2) braille by using a text editor. The files must be in *.txt format, where * is the filename. This feature allows you to create study words that are subject oriented such as math, history, engineering, or health care, or level oriented for children, youth, adults, or professionals. Multiple libraries can be created, saved, and reloaded for use later using the "Load Settings" and "Save Settings" options. You do not need to include the numbers for the dot patterns. All you need is a list of words between five and twelve letters, inclusive. A caveat is that grade 2 words must be located in a pre-loaded dictionary of 45,414 words that maps words to dot patterns. If your personal grade 2 dictionary contains a word that is not in the grade 2 pre-loaded dictionary, an error message will be generated.

    After you have completed your personal dictionaries, you may load them into the Flashcards application by selecting "File -> Open Local Grade 1 Dictionary" or "File -> Open Local Grade 2 Dictionary." Navigate to your personal dictionary and select "Open." Sample dictionaries (which are actually the dictionaries loaded by default) may be downloaded from the page from which you launched the application.

Ron Broadnax (rbroadnax@shodor.org)
August 5, 2009