Virtual Braille Keyboard Now Available on Android

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Google’s mobile operating system Android now includes a built-in braille keyboard that can help people who are blind or have low vision. Prior to the release of the built-in braille keyboard, accessibility features for people with vision impairment had mostly consisted of voice recognition and screen readers. While there were available add-on braille keyboards, most of them were inconvenient, expensive, or outdated. As part of Google’s mission to make information universally available, the company has worked with braille software users and developers to create a virtual braille keyboard. The braille keyboard called TalkBack is available on all devices running on Android OS 5.0 and above. To set it up, users need to activate the keyboard in the Accessibility section in their device’s settings. The keyboard is available when a device is on landscape mode. To form letters and symbols, users can tap specific areas, which represent six braille dots, on the screen. TalkBack also has a function that reads words aloud while a user types. This function allows for quick detection and correction of errors. Gesture-activated features can also delete words or letters and send texts more easily. The braille system was invented almost 200 years ago, and it has become a universally accepted system for reading and writing among people with vision impairment. With TalkBack, the braille system will be more convenient to use because an external keyboard will not be required. Brian Kemler, Android’s product manager, said that the new feature also aims to promote braille literacy. The keyboard is currently available only in English but will soon be available in other languages.

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