Google on Thursday announced that it is now offering a new virtual Braille keyboard directly integrated into Android. The company said that its new TalkBack Braille keyboard will work without any additional hardware and offers users a “fast” and “convenient way” to type on their phones. Google said that its new keyboard was a result of collaboration between the company and Braille developers which would mean that the feature would be familiar to those who used Braille before. TalkBack uses a standard six-key layout with each key representing one of six Braille dots, making any letter or symbol when tapped.
TalkBack Uses Six-Key Layout
The company in a blog post explained that for an user to type A, they would have to press dot 1 while to type B, one would have to press dots 1 and 2 together.
“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 said in a blog post.
The company said that the keyboard can be used anywhere an user would normally type and allows users to delete letters, and words, add lines and submit text.
“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,” the company said.
Further, Google said that the new keyboard can be turned on or off in a similar way to how users would now switch between various international keyboards. However, Talkback gestures are not supported when the keyboard is on.
Braille Keyboard Can Be Enabled in Accessibility Section
It has to be noted that the Braille keyboard is currently rolling out to devices running Android 5 or later. Google said that the keyboard should work with all Android apps and supports Braille Grade 1 and Grade 2. However, the Braille keyboard is said to be available only in English initially.
The company has also provided detailed instructions on how to use the TalkBack keyboard which can be found on the support pages at Android Accessibility Help pages.