As a user, Tiger is truly the information equalizer. I am studying mathematics and accounting and financial management at Loughborough University and it is the first time that I have been able to receive all my maths in a tactile format since I started. We did initially begin with a highly recommended setup of top quality translation software and a very good embosser but soon found that the level of mathematics I was studying was growing too complex for this system to support. We then discovered Tiger and it has solved almost all of the problems we used to face. Now all my mathematics can be translated into a coherent tactile code that I can read and not only this but any integrated diagrams within assignments or lecture handouts – or indeed my own lecture notes – can be easily included in the document.
Because Tiger operates as a windows printer, the complex translation programs that are usually used are not necessary, a hotkey runs the in-built translator and windows solves any formatting and layout issues. Also, this means that Tiger works with a whole host of programs because, obviously, anything where the font can be changed into the braille font that Tiger uses can be reproduced as if using a normal printer.
“We did initially begin with a highly recommended setup of top quality translation software and a very good embosser but soon found that the level of mathematics I was studying was growing too complex for this system to support. We then discovered Tiger…”
I think, however, it is important to appreciate how much simpler this arrangement makes document creation because producing a document for a blind user it almost identical to producing one for a sighted user. The translator may need to be run to convert the text into contracted braille and, naturally, the size of braille does need to be considered to a degree, but this is nothing compared to producing a document the old way – where a file had to be saved, opened in the special translation program, translated, possibly formatted after translation (which requires an intimate knowledge of braille) and then embossed on a noisy and complicated machine with absolutely no graphics capability whatsoever.
It is not just Tiger’s current advantages that make it a crucial piece of hardware for future braille production but also its potential. Because of the very nature of Tiger as a “printer” with normal windows drivers, modifications and updates to both software and firmware make it a far more expandable device for the 21st century.