Monday, June 28, 2010

How did BrailleNote PBWorks came to be...

You may be wondering what I'm talking about from my previous post about some kind of a Beta for a website. Let's just say that it is just a part of a roadmap for creating a one-stop resource for a special computer that blind people like myself use everyday - the BrailleNote PBWorks page.

The BrailleNote PBWorks is a result of a one small suggestion by my tech teacher at LAUSD (Los angeles Unified School District). In January and February of 2008, I had a chance to work with my tech teacher, Ms. Lore Schindler at Frances Blend Elementary, an all-blind elementary school for blind children. I was a senior in high school (I attended John marshall High School) then with an ambition of studying computer science at whatever university accepts me. Thus, it was an opportunity to try out apprenticeship by being a technical support and an intern "helper" for elementary school students - and in extension, create a resource for those who are using BrailleNote, a special type of computer for the blind.

The first day at work, Ms. Schindler suggested that I create a web resource for BrailleNote so that her students can use it. Apparently she found PBWiki (, a company which helps educators and others create resources, or wikis for student use - with the goal of colaboration. I thought, "well, since other blindness PDA's have a web resource, wy not BrailleNote," thus began the development of a site that later became BrailleNote PBWorks.

At first, the content was just a list of helpful articles for troubleshooting common problems with BrailleNote, as well as a dictionary of connectivity terms and a tutorial style page for new users of KeySoft, a software suite that runs on the BraileNote. After many experiments with PBWorks editor and using my knowledge of HTML code, the website was finally born on january 15, 2008 with about 15 articles. Some of the startup articles included how to set date and time on a BrailleNote, using USB printers and a detailed note on using diagnostic modes for obtaining battery and power status information. Since then, the website grew tremendously - not only it houses nearly fifty articles on KeySoft, but houses links to useful websites create by and for blind community, and a series of podcasts (syndicated web content) for BrailleNote family of products - which includes chats, tutorials recorded by myself and other online presentations.

What was originally intended for student use by LAUSD became sort of a one-stop resource for all things about BrailleNote. From students to even HumanWare have visited the site, and many people sent me comments, telling me the website has helped them fix issues and was able to learn new things that users didn't know was possible on the BrailleNote. As the administrator and webmaster of that site, I'm really grateful for these comments, and am glad to say that the BrailleNote PBWorks project was the best thing that I've done before and after graduated from high school - an even in my college life. Imagine a website created by a user of a product for other users... And that's the beauty of BrailleNote PBWorks in the first place.

To enter the BrailleNote PBWorks site, click here. Hope you enjoy the site...
//JL (UCR)

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