iPhone app lets visually impaired type and text

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.