What’s wrong with older mechanical braille writers such as the Perkins? Well, they remain one of the most outstanding writing devices of all times. However, there is a real problem if they are the only tool available for early braille learners. We simply would not accept a 50 year old device as the only writing choice available for a sighted child.
There are very few products that we use today that have remained unchanged for 50 years. Those that have usually have clearly identifiable characteristics that make them superior. For the Perkins the superior characteristic in which it is unsurpassed is its durability; a true testament to its design. However in so many other areas it falls short of what we expect in a modern literacy tool, and ergonomics is the most obvious.
There remains a tradition in many countries to start using the braille writer when the student is strong enough, often 7-8 years of age, and this is simply an indefensible position in this day and age. Children need to start scribbling and playing with braille from the earliest possible time, certainly no later than kindergarten. We certainly don’t let physical limitations inhibit pre-literacy learning for sighted children.