What you need to know
- Google has created a new braille keyboard directly integrated into Android.
- The aim is to make typing on Android easier for people with limited vision and mitigate if not remove entirely the need for external hardware.
- The keyboard is available now for Android users running Lollipop and above.
Google is making typing on Android more accessible to sight-impaired users with a new keyboard. Called the TalkBack braille keyboard, Google has worked with braille experts and braille users to develop a keyboard built on the standard braille 6 key layout. It's meant to be familiar to braille users to reduce acclimation time.
Google's Brian Kemler, Android Accessibility PM says:
TalkBack braille keyboard is a new virtual braille keyboard integrated directly into Android. 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. As part of our mission to make the world's information universally accessible, we hope this keyboard can broadly expand braille literacy and exposure among blind and low vision people.
Google says the new keyboard can be used wherever a keyboard would normally appear on Android and can be invoked and dismissed with the same ease as with alternate languages. It "allows you to delete letters and words, add lines, and submit text" which presumably means it works like a keyboard is expected to.
The new TalkBack braille keyboard will roll out on all Android devices from Lollipop and above. It'll support English and braille grade 1 and 2 at launch. As the name implies, you'll need to have TalkBack enabled to use it, but otherwise, using it is as simple as following Google's instructions here.
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