Google is adding a major accessibility feature to Android with a new built-in braille keyboard for all devices running version 5.0 and up.
The new first-party keyboard will enable visually-impaired Android users to type without the need to connect a physical braille keyboard to their devices.
Dubbed the TalkBack braille keyboard, it will be integrated directly into Android and will rely on six on-display buttons. Combinations of touches will produce letters and, in turn, words.
In a post on the Google blog the company wrote: “Our 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.”
You can see it in action in the .GIF file below:
Google says the keyboard can be used anywhere users would normally type. As well as spelling out words, it’s equally possible to delete letters and words, while adding lines and submitting text. Once enabled via the Accessibility section of the Settings app, accessing the keyboard is as simple as switching between international keyboards.
The company adds: “TalkBack braille keyboard is a new virtual braille keyboard integrated directly into Android. 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. 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.”
There are a number of third-party braille keyboards available, but having a Google-made, free alternative is a great boon for those in need of the service.