Non Display Based Personal Digital Assistant


an image of a braille note bt braille note takerPersonal Digital Assistants (PDAs) are portable computers that are designed to act as organizers, note takers and/or communication devices. Non-display based PDAs are often used by individuals who do not use touchscreens, handwriting recognition, or miniature keyboards. They have been designed specifically for individuals who have a visual impairment. 

Non display based personal digital assistants can have a QWERTY keyboard or utilize Braille for the inputting of text. They are also known as a portable information manager or note taking devices as they provide a mobile method for taking, storing and retrieving notes. The main feature of this device is word processing, but also includes additional features such as:
  • Appointment Calendar
  • Calculator
  • Clock
  • Address list management
  • Email Access
  • Condensed version of the Internet
  • Feedback either through voice output or through refreshable Braille display
  • Connection to desktop or laptop computer so that information can be transferred between devices.
Some advanced features that may be included are:
  • Bluetooth & WiFi connectivity
  • Enhanced Media Player
  • Voice Memos
  • Book Reader
  • Stopwatch
  • Scientific Calculator
  • Visual Display for real-time translation and viewing by sighted observers, peers or teachers

Points to Ponder

Questions to consider when choosing a note taking device?

  • Do you need a Braille or QWERTY keyboard for input?
  • Do you need voice or refreshable Braille for output?
  • Does it have expandable memory? Can it be connected to other storage media such as flash cards, USB memory sticks and SD (secure digital) cards
  • Is there add-on software available for it?
  • Do you require multi-language support?
  • Do you require a one-handed option?
  • What is the battery life of the device?
  • What voices are available? Synthesizers?


Manufacturers of Non Display Based PDAs

SNOW does not endorse any of the following software/hardware. These links are provided for information purposes only.

Freedom Scientific
GW Micro, Inc

Additional Useful Links

Seminars@Hadley has an archive of seminars on the topic of note takers and accessible PDAs that you can listen to. 

Did you know? That PDAs are smartphones! If you want to know how you can access your phone with greater ease, visit the Mobile Accessibility section on SNOW.