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The BrailleR Project

created and maintained by Jonathan Godfrey
School of Mathematical and Computational Sciences, Massey University,
Palmerston North, New Zealand

Last updated: 8 February 2024

This page is for my workings on the BrailleR Project. I will put files here for download, and hopefully incorporate any publications or support documentation that is relevant to the project. Your feedback on these initiatives is most definitely appreciated.

Please contact Dr Jonathan Godfrey if you experience any problems working with the documents and files. Constructive feedback on developments to any of the documents is also appreciated.

I established a blind R Users Group (BlindRUG) email list in late January 2015 so that those of us using R can bounce ideas off one another. I intend to promote the updates to the BrailleR package on this list. To join the list, send a message to:
with the single word:
in the subject line. You will be sent a confirmation message to the address from which the message was sent within a few minutes. Simply reply to that confirmation message and wait for the initial welcome message with the standard list admin notes and a few initial pointers.

History of the BrailleR Project

I first presented the BrailleR project at the Digitization and E-Inclusion in Mathematics and sciences (DEIMS12) conference held at Nihon University in Tokyo on 9 February 2012. The power point file is here for your perusal, as well as the final article submitted. )Download links are at the bottom of this page.)

The BrailleR pacakge for use with R was also mentioned in the article accepted for publication in the June 2013 issue of the R Journal. Get a copy of the article from the journal's webpage; screen reader users will probably prefer to read the HTML version of Statistical Software from a Blind Personís Perspective.

Installing the BrailleR package

At the R prompt:

Then once the package is installed:

In the folder where you are currently working, as shown by the getwd() command, you will find a new folder called Ozone and three files also starting with Ozone. The folder and files are named after the variable used in the example. The files are an html file, an R script that has the commands needed to get the analyses included in the html file, and the workhorse markdown file that is the source for the html file. The latter two files are just plain text files and are hopefully fairly readable by anyone wanting to learn how to do things in R that are presented in the html file. These files are the things a blind user needs. In the folder created are a bunch of files for the graphs (four different file formats) and a few LaTeX files for the tables. No more painful copy and pasting and table creation.

Package updates

I am working on the BrailleR package all the time. If you find a problem that you think needs to be fixed, or have any suggestions for improving the package then please do send them to me. The version of BrailleR available on CRAN lags behind the development by a month or two and I hadn't decided on a useful repository for the most current version until very recently. Please go to my GitHub repository to find the most recent development version of the package. (Suggestions welcome.)


I attended the National Federation of the Blind's Annual Convention in Orlando Florida during July 2017. I used several documents for my interactions with blind people while I was there. In previous years, I recorded some interactions with the BrailleR package. I hope to add more over time but would appreciate some feedback about their usefulness. They were originally recorded for showing what the BrailleR package could do rather than as a tutorial, but I thought they might prove useful. Download links are at the bottom of this page.)


I've shown the R world about the needs of blind users at four UseR conferences thus far. This has proven to be a great way of getting help from the R community. Look for the presentations in the list of files below. The 2015 and 2016 talks were prepared in HTML and have a lot of files so are zipped up for convenience.

I attended the third international workshop on Digitisation and E-Inclusion in Mathematics and Sciences (DEIMS2016) held in Japan in February 2016. I gave two talks, one on extracting more detail about graphs (co-authored with Paul Murrell), and the other (co-authored with James Curtis) on a small application called WriteR that offers blind users an alternative text editor for creating and processing R markdown documents. The talks are sets of HTML files zipped up while the accompanying papers are in pdf format; all files are available for download using links at the bottom of this page; screen reader users may wish to read HTML versions of these papers online at Statistical Graphs Made Tactile and Simple Authoring of Statistical Analyses by and for Blind People.

My thanks

This is just one way of saying thank you to the people that make a difference.

My attendance at UseR!2016 in San Francisco was partially supported by the granting of a Diversity Scholarship by the conference organizers.

My attendance at the 2011 Summer University in the Czech Republic (July 29 to August 3) was funded by the organizers. This was a great opportunity to show off R to a new audience - an audience that can truly benefit from having R as a backup for the failings of many other statistical software applications which do not cater for their needs. Read details of the R workshop held at the 2011 Summer University, including downloadable sound files.

My attendance at the 2013 Summer University in Germany (September 2-6) was partly funded by the organizers. Massey University also partly funded hmy attendance that year, and fully funded me in 2014 when it was held in Paris (July 4-8). I am hopeful that my engagement with more blind students and other researchers in blindness education will assist the ongoing development of the BrailleR package.

Greg Snow willingly provided some of the functionality from the TeachingDemos package for inclusion in the BrailleR package. This makes it an easy task to save the text from the terminal window into a text file without worrying about the need to manage sinks and history files. (Updates last provided in March 2012)

Yihui Xie is responsible for the knitr package in R. I attended his tutorial on using knitr held at the UseR!2014 conference in Los Angeles. He has subsequently assisted with hints and suggestions for incorporating knitr workflows into the BrailleR package.

Paul Murrell and I have been having fairly regular catch ups since early 2014. His expertise in graphics creation has proven very useful to me as well as offering ideas and feedback on work done in the BrailleR package. It is the work I am doing with Paul that will improve our (blind users) ability to extract the detail from graphical objects so that we can be more confident that we get what we want when we create graphs independently.

Three Massey students have played a role in developments for the BrailleR package and WriteR application. Timothy Bilton assisted with ideas, issues and modifications to the BrailleR add-on package as well as the WriteR application. James Curtis helped get WriteR to a more useful standard.

In early 2021, Sophie Banks helped get outcomes from ggplot() based graphs to a more readable standard. This has in part improved my own ability to use ggplot graphics in my teaching and consulting work with greater comfort.

I've received suggestions for improvements by other people from the R community: My thanks to JooYoung Seo, Tal Galili, and Henrik Bengtsson in particular.

Please double click the following files to open/download