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What's a PortaBook?

PortaBooks are books on disk or CD in a contracted - or Grade 2 - braille format.

Almost all of our books are available as PortaBooks (see All Books)

And now, you can instantly download many of our books in PortaBook format! See instructions here.

PortaBook Frequently Asked Questions

What is a PortaBook?

A PortaBook is a braille file on disk (in contracted, or Grade 2, braille). All our current titles, and most of our past ones, are available in PortaBook format, except those with tactile graphics. PortaBooks are designed primarily to be read on a portable braille reading device, but they can also be embossed with a braille embosser, or accessed with a computer and braille display or braille-aware notetaker.

What's on a PortaBook disk or CD?

Every PortaBook contains the following:

What hardware do I need to read a PortaBook?

You need one of the following:

How do I load a PortaBook into my hardware?

You load it the same way you would a text or Web-Braille file. Here are some possible scenarios:

Do I need any special software to read PortaBooks with a notetaker?

No. PortaBooks are in a plain braille format; the only symbols they contain are braille characters, carriage returns, and spaces. As long as your notetaker can handle braille files, you will be able to read PortaBooks. If you are using a PAC Mate, open the file in the FS Editor, not Pocket Word.

Do I need any special software to read PortaBooks with a computer?

No. PortaBooks are in a plain braille format; the only symbols they contain are braille characters, carriage returns, and spaces. If you're using a computer with a braille display, you can open and read PortaBooks just fine in most word processors, including WordPad, Microsoft Word, and WordPerfect for Windows or DOS. If your braille display or screen reader normally translates text on your screen into contracted braille, just remember to turn this feature off (see the next question for more details).

Can I read a PortaBook with a computer and speech if I don't own a braille display?

Yes. If you own version 6 or later of either Kurzweil 1000 or OpenBook 7, simply open the PortaBook in either of these adaptive scanning programs.

Without such a program, PortaBooks sound garbled if you try to listen to them with a screen reader. They are written in contracted braille, not text, so your screen reader has no way of knowing, for example, that when it sees the letter "C" all by itself, it should read it as "can." If you're using a braille display, however, the file will appear on the display in contracted braille and you will be able to read it. Just be sure that if your display or screen reader has a feature that translates text into contracted braille, this feature is turned off when you read PortaBooks. The file is already in contracted braille, so if your display tries to translate it into contracted braille, you will see gibberish.

What's the difference between a PortaBook and a Web-Braille book?

There is no difference. Previously PortaBooks contained some specialized formatting; they are now formatted exactly like Web-Braille books.

How much space will a PortaBook take up in my notetaker's memory?

It depends on the book. A short book, like Who Moved My Cheese, is 70K (kilobytes), while our longest, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, is over a megabyte long. Except in rare instances, no PortaBook volume is over 125K.

Which books are available as PortaBooks?

All our current titles (and most of our past ones) are available, except those that include a significant number of tactile graphics, like Touch the Stars.

If you have other questions that we did not answer here, please call our customer service department at 800-548-7323, or (617) 266-6160 x 20.



Children's Book of the Month!

Dad and the Dinosaur

Cover image of 'Dad and the Dinosaur'

Price: $17.99
Format: Print/Braille

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