Schwarz-Weiß-Foto einer Braillex


Braille goes digital

Surfing the internet, sending e-mails, or using PC applications: all these are possible for blind people today. A milestone in the 1970s was the development of an electronic braille display. One of its inventors was electrical engineer Friedrich Horst Papenmeier.

How can blind people be more independent in their everyday lives? In the early 70s, the company F.H. Papenmeier GmbH & Co. KG in Schwerte was motivated by this question. Working with Prof. Dr. Werner Boldt from Dortmund University, it researched how to design and realize a technical device for storing and reproducing braille, a form of written language used by the blind and severely visually impaired. The inventors proudly presented the fruits of their research to the public in 1975: Braillex, the first device with an electronic braille display. This served as an interface between blind users and the screen content. The information on the screen is output in braille. The user feels height-adjustable pins, the “braille points”, with their fingertips.

Since launching Braillex on the market, Papenmeier has been continuously refining its invention and adapting it to the changes in the digital world. Papenmeier was granted a new patent in 1999 for the special navigation bar of the braille display, which can be used to trigger computer keyboard functions just like a mouse. The Braillex brand has now grown into a well- known international product range that helps to improve inclusivity for the blind and severely visually impaired.

To the Papenmeier website...

Place of invention

F.H. Papenmeier GmbH & Co. KG, Talweg 2, 58239 Schwerte