Introducing Monarch: A Revolution in Braille and tactile Learning

Introducing Monarch: A Revolution in Braille and tactile Learning

As part of Deafblind Awareness Month, Bridges Canada is excited to introduce the Monarch: a transformative learning tool that will dramatically change how both beginner and fluent braille readers, learn.

Coming in the fall of 2024, the Monarch is a dynamic tactile display with multiple lines of braille graphics, in one user-friendly device. This cutting-edge design will enhance learning and productivity by delivering thousands of pages of tactile text and images, on demand, to the finger tips of individuals: ideal for students, children and adults who are blind or have low vision.

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Developed by HumanWare in collaboration with the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) and the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), Monarch is a significant leap forward in accessibility technology.   


A breakthrough for learning with braille and learning braille

Access to text is essential for learning and work.  And although, text to speech is ubiquitous, research has shown that learners who read with braille as well as text to speech are best able to decode complex text, especially math.  However, braille literacy rates have been a concern in many countries, including Canada:  evidence suggests that they have been declining, steadily.

By removing and/or significantly reducing barriers to creating and accessing braille and tactile materials, the Monarch has the potential to reverse those trends.

Monarch’s 480 braille cells display up to 10 lines of braille, with 32 characters in each line. This is essentially a braille screen. This means users can display not just text but tactile imagery, algebraic expressions, geometric shapes, graphs and so much more that’s essential for STEM learning.  In addition, students can access a vast array of tactile graphics from the APH’s Tactile Graphics Image Library (TGIL).

No more lugging around the heavy, cumbersome, multi-binder versions of text books.  With the Monarch, users can download and store hundreds of digital textbooks for easy search, reading and reference. 

The Monarch puts information literally at the user's fingertips, reducing the time and effort required to access educational materials and enhancing the learning experience for blind students.


Key features and apps of the Monarch

Monarch includes a range of applications tailored to meet diverse needs of the deafblind and low vision communities, such as:

  • KeyWord: A word processor that supports MathML in addition to .docx, .doc, .txt, and PDF files, making it easier for students to work with mathematical texts.
  • KeyBrf: A braille editor designed for creating and editing braille documents.
  • Graphing Calculator and Scientific Calculator: Essential tools for students and professionals who need to perform complex calculations.
  • Tactile Viewer: A tactile graphic viewing app that provides access to over 15,000 tactile graphics from the TGIL online library.
  • Victor Reader: An onboard text-to-speech function that allows users to listen to documents.
  • KeyFiles: A file manager that helps users organize their documents and resources efficiently.

Plus, the Monarch features an HDMI connection, enabling the device’s display to be mirrored on an external screen, so that a student can fully take part in all aspects of classroom activities. 

The Monarch will support English and French with additional braille languages coming soon.


Designed for accessibility and durability


Monarch's hardware is equally impressive and features a purpose built, robust design with 128GB of internal storage running a robust Android OS. Its user-replaceable protective membrane, guards against dust and accidental liquid spills, ensuring the device’s longevity and reliability.

Despite its advanced capabilities, coming in at just over 2 kg (4.65 lbs), the Monarch is lighter than a lot of textbooks, making it easy to use throughout the day.


Monarch:  empowering potential 

The introduction of Monarch during Deafblind Awareness Month underscores its potential to empower individuals with visual impairments by providing greater access to educational resources and fostering independence.

With all these features, Monarch is set to become an indispensable tool in classrooms and workplaces. Its launch will be a significant step towards making education and employment more accessible and inclusive for the blind and low vision community including deafblind individuals.

For more information about Monarch and other innovative products and resources for the deafblind community, contact Bridges Canada at 1-800-353-1107 or

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  • Bogdan Pospielovsky
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