Google adds a keyboard for the blind to Android

iOS has always been ahead of the curve Android when it comes to accessibility. Due to the deep thoughtfulness of the mobile operating system from Apple, people with disabilities could conveniently use it. That only is the voice control of the interface, sound of what is happening on the screen or support for hearing aids. But recently, Google realized that it was far behind a competitor, and therefore decided to take on the development of an inclusive component Android and added the ability to type text using Braille for touch screens.

Google adds a keyboard for the blind to Android

Braille typing is possible even on a smartphone

Braille is a tactile font developed by Louis Braille that is based on bump-sensing and is intended to be read by the blind or visually impaired. Classic Braille is presented in a six-point system, where a combination of dots denotes a specific letter or symbol. As a result, you can type 63 informative characters and 1 space in Braille. There is also an eight-point system that allows you to type 255 informative characters and a space, but it is considered a non-classical option.

How to enable braille on Android

Google adds a keyboard for the blind to Android

This is how Braille dialing works on Android

Braille typing at Android is part of TalkBack. It allows you to call instead of the standard keyboard a special six-key block, where each of them replaces one of the six braille dots. Despite the fact that the relief cannot be reproduced on the touch screen, the principle of typing using the method proposed by Google is basically no different from the traditional method used by blind or visually impaired people. So, to type the letter 'a', you need to press the number '1', and to type the letter 'b' – the numbers '1' and '2' together.

How to enable TalkBack mode on Android

  • To enable Braille on Android, go to 'Settings';
  • Open the section 'Accessibility' – TalkBack;

Google adds a keyboard for the blind to Android

Braille dialing is a feature of TalkBack for the visually impaired

  • Turn on Talkback mode by sliding the activation toggle switch to the 'on' position;
  • Go to any printing application, bring up the keyboard and swipe across it with three fingers, and then start typing.

How to use braille on Android

There are no other buttons, except for these six, that are responsible for the character set, but this does not mean that it is impossible to perform other manipulations with the text.

  • To delete a letter, swipe to the left with one finger;
  • To delete a word, you need to swipe left with two fingers;
  • To wrap a line, swipe right with two fingers;
  • To confirm the end of the dialing, you need to swipe up with two fingers.

Android for visually impaired

Google adds a keyboard for the blind to Android

Braille Android is not tactile, but better than nothing

For now, touch braille is only available to English-speaking users. Of course, anyone can turn it on, regardless of country of residence and device used. It's just that at the moment Android only supports one language – English. However, given that usually Google is trying to spread the innovations of its OS to a multilingual audience, most likely in the foreseeable future we will see how Braille in Android will work with the Russian language. In addition, while the update is being distributed gradually, and therefore right now it is not available to everyone.

Google's desire to expand inclusiveness Android certainly deserves the warmest praise. Still, until now, disabled users have not had many options to interact with. Despite the fact that the TalkBack mode allowed the visually impaired to work with the system, navigating the interface corners, actually working with it, surfing the web and communicating with other users, they had practically no chance.

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