The proposed research will investigate a uniquely configured optical to tactile converter which packages both the optical camera and a miniaturized vibrotactile display into a compact handheld configuration. The increased haptic awareness afforded to the user by this configuration is expected to improve the uniformity of text presentation to the sensing fingertip and may improve the performance and utility of the reading process for blind individuals. The device, called the Tactual Pen, will be evaluated along with the commercially available Optacon II, using volunteer blind and sighted test subjects including both current users and non-users of the Optacon. The tests will comparatively evaluate; (1) Text tracking ability; (2)Reading of simple alphanumeric characters; (3) Learning and replicating graphical icons using manual inscription; (4) Gathering spatial understanding of graphical constructs larger than the field of view. The results from this testing will allow the performance of the Tactual Pen to be compared directly with the Optacon and will capitalize on the existing body of research performed on that device.