NVDA Braille Viewer

a person's hands read electronic braille on a Focus 40 braille display connected to a laptop computer.

Don’t want to read?

Written By Cody Laplante

Cody M. Laplante is a certified Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments located in the capital region of the United States. With a Master’s Degree and Graduate Certificate in Assistive Technology, Cody founded eye.t to provide live and asynchronous training options to children, adults, professionals and parents to ensure that all people with visual impairments can have access to a computer.

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Published on

April 19, 2023

Last week we learned about how to turn on the Braille viewer in JAWS. This week…you guessed it… we are going over the same thing with NVDA!

So you are ready to teach your student to use a braille display with NVDA. Good for you! For all screen reader users, a braille display provides that extra level of access that can help out in tons of situations.

But you have two problems:

Problem 1: How do you know what your learner’s braille display says while they are using it?

I know. It’s a good question isn’t it. And it might not be something that you think about until you are in a lesson with your learner and you realize. “Hmm I have no idea what your display says right now”.

How do you assist your learner when they get stuck? Do you lift up their fingers and peek underneath? Do you just guess what their display says?

Problem 2: How do you test a process before teaching it to your learner if you only have one display?

So let’s just say that you have gotten really good at guessing what your learner’s display says. They’ve learned how to use it and now they might just need you to teach them those more advanced skills. Okay so how do YOU learn those advanced skills without a braille display? 

Do you ask your agency to buy you ANOTHER braille display? 

Hmmm that might now work.

Oh I know! You can just borrow a braille display from one of the dozens of people you know that own one.

Wait… you probably don’t know anyone who owns a braille display. And even if you did, they probably need it for themselves… drat.

The Solution

Luckily, most screen readers have built in a solution for these problems… It is called the Braille Viewer.

The Braille Viewer is a window that shows what is on the braille display both in braille and in print (or what WOULD be on the braille display if there was one connected.

As a teacher, I keep my braille viewer enabled at all times, just to make sure I have a good understanding of what the braille would look like for each skill I am teaching, whether my learner has a display in front of them or not.

How to Enable the Braille Viewer in NVDA

Remember, if you’d like to see a video of this particular process, click the link below to view this week’s Tech Tip Tuesday video.

  1. Open the NVDA Menu (NVDA + N)
  2. Scroll to and select “Tools” (Arrow keys, Enter)
  3. Scroll to and select “Braille Viewer” (Arrow keys, Enter)

And now your braille viewer should be enabled.

Check in next week to see how to use the Math Braille Editor in JAWS, and as always have a great week!


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