Google has recently introduced a new virtual keyboard for visually impaired people to type messages and emails without any additional hardware.
According to the company’s release, Google virtual keyboard — ‘Talkback braille keyboard’ runs only on Android that turns a user’s smartphone into a braille keyboard. The keyboard is a fast, convenient way to type on your phone without any additional hardware.
This keyboard can be used by visually impaired people to either post on social media, responding to a text, or writing a brief email. According to Google, the features will include a six-key layout, and each key represents one of 6 braille dots.
Further explaining it, Google stated that, When tapped on to the key, they make any letter or symbol. For instance, to type an ‘A’ users would press dot one, and to type a ‘B,’ dots one and one together.
To make it running, users can navigate to their keyboard menu the same way they would find international keyboards. And, to use the braille keyboard, users will have to turn on the ‘TalkBack’ feature in the Accessibility section of their device settings.
In a recent tweet, Google confirmed the news by stating — “Whether you’re tweeting or responding to a text, the TalkBack braille keyboard will allow you to type on your @Android phone without any additional hardware. We hope this will broadly expand braille literacy among blind and low vision people.”
Once it’s set up, users can start the keyboard with three fingers by swiping up on the screen, every time they want it. This tool has only been designed for any text field on Android, which means it can be used to send text messages or emails and other quick tasks.
Even though the market already holds several hardware solutions for visually impaired people, to aid them to type on mobile devices; the USP of Google’s virtual keyboard is that it offers users a quick and easy way to type without having to connect or attach a physical keyboard.
Google says that Talkback braille keyboard is currently rolling out to Android devices running version 5.0 or later today and it will work across all apps on one’s device. Currently, the technology supports braille grade 1 and grade 2 and is available initially in English.
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Sejuti currently works as Senior Technology Journalist at Analytics India Magazine (AIM). Reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org