To make typing on computers and smartphones more convenient for the visually impaired, Google has launched a Braille keyboard named TalkBack.
The virtual Braille keyboard can be integrated directly into Android, according to a blog entry posted by Brian Kemler, Product Manager, Android Accessibility.
“It’s a fast, convenient way to type on your phone without any additional hardware, whether you’re posting on social media, responding to a text, or writing a brief email,” Kemler said.
He said that the TalkBack keyboard uses a standard 6-key layout and each key represents one of six Braille dots which, when tapped, make any letter or symbol. “To type an ‘A’ you would press dot 1 and to type a ‘B’, dots 1 and 2 together,” Kemler added.
Apart from normal typing, the keyboard also lets users delete letters and words, add lines, and submit text. It can be turned on and off as simply as switching between international keyboards, the blog mentioned.
Google’s TalkBack gestures, however, are not supported when the keyboard is on.
To set up TalkBack on Google’s Braille keyboard, users will have to follow these steps:
- Go to the Accessibility section under the Settings option
- Choose Braille keyboard
- Select ‘Tap to set up’
- In the dialogue, select Settings
- Turn on TalkBack Braille keyboard.
- Google has begun to roll out the keyboard to Android devices running on version 5.0 or later. It works across all apps on Android device, supports Braille grade 1 and grade 2, and is currently available in English.
Google said the keyboard is part of its mission to make the world’s information universally accessible. The tech giant hopes that the device can broadly expand Braille literacy and exposure among visually impaired and people with poor or low vision.
“Our team collaborated with Braille developers and users throughout the development of this feature, so it’ll be familiar to anyone who has typed using Braille before,” Kemler said.