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iPhone app lets visually impaired type and text

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While Siri and VoiceOver can assist visually impaired iPhone(s aapl) users, new software out of the Georgia Tech College of Computing looks to supplement these accessibility options. BrailleTouch is a prototype application that uses traditional Braille input on the iPhone’s touchscreen, allowing people to type up to 32 words per minute with 92 percent accuracy, all without looking at the phone’s display.

Here’s how it works. The phone is actually held with the screen facing away from the user. Six large dots appear on the touchscreen in landscape mode, which can auto-rotate, making it irrelevant how the device is held. Using the traditional Braille method, users tap the correct dots to form letters and words. The software can speak aloud the typed letters, helping to ensure proper spelling and input.

This solution is brilliant on several levels. The iPhone has one of the best displays of any phone on the market, but in this case, the high-resolution screen is turned into a highly effective input mechanism for those with limited or no sight. Ergonomically, BrailleTouch makes sense too. And as a free, open source application, it’s far cheaper than a dedicated Braille machine, even when factoring in the cost of an iPhone.

10 Responses to “iPhone app lets visually impaired type and text”

  1. I think that’s brilliant. But I have a few questions. Can you feel the dots that appear on the screen? When using it, how can you use it with a brail method? When writing in brail, you use both hands. How do you do that? Thanks.

  2. allen Cliff

    It is about time that someone starts to address the problem of the Achilles heel of the iPhone, and probably many Android phones as well. Their lacking of a physical keyboard really is fatally flawed when comes to texting. You will have to look at the tiny keys to type, instead of looking on the screen of what you are writing. Even with the utmost of care you can still make many mistakes by hitting the wrong key on an iPhone. Another app tries to help iPhone users lookup contacts, called PhoneBook Plus, uses a bigger numerical keypad, but it is only limited to searching names, numbers and groups, not for texting. But still, it is easy to see a big difference PhoneBook already made. Siri may be a partial solution, but would be very interesting to see whether there can be a new revolution way of typing on a touch screen.