Google is rolling out the TalkBack braille keyboard, a new virtual braille keyboard integrated directly into Android.
The invention of braille has been making reading and writing accessible to blind people. Today, braille displays make typing accessible on most phones and computers through a physical braille keyboard. But it can be time-consuming to connect an external device each time you want to type something quickly on your phone.
Google says that the new TalkBack braille keyboard is a fast, convenient way to type on your phone without any additional hardware. Google's
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. It uses a standard 6-key layout and each key represents one of 6 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.
The keyboard can be used anywhere you would normally type and allows you to delete letters and words, add lines, and submit text. You can turn the keyboard on and off as simply as switching between international keyboards.
To use the braille keyboard, turn on TalkBack in the Accessibility section within Settings, and follow these instructions to set it up. Once you set up the keyboard, use three fingers to swipe up on your screen and try practicing with the gestures tutorial.
Talkback braille keyboard is rolling out to Android devices running version 5.0 or later, starting today. It works across all apps on your Android device, supports braille grade 1 and grade 2 and is available initially in English.