Google’s accessibility features on Android just got a lot better with the addition of an in-built virtual Braille keyboard. The company says it collaborated with braille developers to offer a unified typing experience across apps to help people with visual impairments.
“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.”, wrote Google on its blog post.
Google says the typing experience on its virtual Braille keyboard will almost be the same as the physical Braille keyboard. Hence, there won’t be a significant learning curve for people who’re used to typing Braille.
The keyboard uses a standard 6-key layout. Each key in the layout represents one of the six braille dots. These dots are used to form letters or symbols. The keyboard can be toggled on or off just like you normally switch keyboards after you enable it.
To enable the braille keyboard, go to your phone’s Settings ->Accessibility ->TalkBack-> Settings. Detailed instructions to setup and configure the TalkBack Braille keyboard are present here.
The keyboard supports various handy gestures. To be specific, swiping left deletes a letter, a 2-finger swipe to the left deletes a word. You can add a space by swiping right while 2-finger swipe right switches to a new line and 2-finger swipe up submits the current text input.
TalkBack Braille keyboard supports Braille grade 1 & grade 2 and is now available on Android phones with version 5.0 Lollipop or later. The language support is initially limited to English but we could expect Google to add support for more languages in the future.
Just like TalkBack Braille keyboard and Sound Amplifier, we hope Google also pushes its much-needed Live Caption accessibility feature to all compatible phones rather than touting it as an exclusive flagship feature.