Saturday, December 13, 2014

New in iOS 8: Built-in Braille Keyboard for Six-Dot Input

New in iOS 8: Built-in Braille Keyboard for Six-Dot Input

iOS 8 includes enhancements to VoiceOver, the
built-in gesture based screen reader for people with visual
impairments. One of the improvements is a new built-in Braille Keyboard
for Six-Dot input. The new feature is similar to the BrailleTouch
app released a few years ago with one major difference; the built-in
option can be used to enter text into any app directly. The option can
be enabled in the VoiceOver rotor. The Braille keyboard will offer VoiceOver
users who are familiar with Braille an alternative, and possibly much
faster text entry method. iOS 8 will also offers third-party keyboards
such as Fleksy which could also offer significantly faster text input for VoiceOver users.

Once you turn the Braille keyboard on six positions will appear on
screen representing the six Braille dots. When the device is held with
the screen perpendicular to the floor it automatically enters screen
away mode. When using this mode the user faces the screen away allowing
three fingers from each hand to contact the screen. As the user begins
to type the six virtual dots automatically reposition themselves to
compensate for changes in your grip. The dots can also be recalibrated
by holding down the three right hand fingers and then the three left
hand fingers immediately after. This positions the dots directly under
your fingers.

When the device is set on the table or another flat surface the Braille
keyboard enters tabletop mode. This mode would seem to be ideal for an iPad
can can also be used on smaller devices. It does take some care to
ensure that the keyboard does not switch between tabletop and screen
away mode accidentally. In both modes typing did seem difficult on the
small screen, but some practice seemed to improve typing speed. This new
option allows typing with contracted or uncontracted Braille. When
typing a swipe right adds a space and a swipe left deletes the last
character typed. This new method of typing is very sensitive a will
likely require practice before mastering. If you use this feature
frequently, it maybe helpful to purchase a case that boarders the screen
to avoid trying to type on the bezel.

To enable the Braille keyboard go to Settings > General >
Accessibility > VoiceOver > Rotor > Braille Screen Input. Then,
when VoiceOver
is enabled, rotate the rotor until Braille screen input is selected. It
exciting to see all the new third-party keyboard options for iOS 8, but
for VoiceOver users, Apple's own Braille keyboard maybe the most
exciting of all.

Khondoker Hafizur Rahman

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