Google unveils a virtual braille keyboard for Android that makes phones accessible to blind and partially sighted people without additional hardware
- With a new virtual keyboard, the visually impaired type on Android can use braille
- The tool can be used to type text messages or emails
- It makes the clunky external hardware unnecessary
- Android devices with version 5.0 and above can use the function
Google introduces a new virtual keyboard that allows the visually impaired to type messages and emails without clumsy extra hardware.
The ‘Talkback Braille keyboard’ as Google calls it is a new feature on Android that turns a user’s smartphone into a
“TalkBack braille keyboard is a new virtual braille keyboard integrated directly into Android,” the company wrote in a blog post.
“It’s a quick, easy way to type on your phone without additional hardware, whether you’re posting on social media, texting, or writing a short email.”
The feature uses a six-key layout, and each key represents one of six braille dots, according to Google.
When tapped, they make any letter or symbol. For example, to type an “A”, press point one and type “B”, points one and one together.
To enable the keyboard, users can navigate to it in their keyboard menu in the same way as international keyboards.
To use the braille keyboard, users must enable the ‘TalkBack’ feature in the Accessibility section of their device settings.
Once set up, users can use the three-finger keyboard to swipe up on the screen.
The tool is useful for any text field on Android, which means it can be used to send text messages or emails and other quick tasks.
The keyboard uses a standard six-key layout that allows users to enter commands in text messages and emails
While there are already hardware solutions that allow visually impaired people to type on mobile devices, the advantage of Google’s virtual keyboard is that it provides users with a quick and easy way to type without plugging in or plugging in a physical keyboard.
Google says the talkback braille keyboard is currently rolling out to Android devices running version 5.0 or later today and will cover all apps on the device.
It currently supports Grade 1 and Grade 2 Braille and is initially available in English