iPad App Brings Braille Keyboard to Blind Users’ Fingertips | WIRED

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The proliferation of touchscreen technology may have revolutionized mobile computer input for most everyone, but there’s one sector of the population that isn’t exactly feeling the pinch, the tap, or the swipe: the blind. It’s nearly impossible to interact with elements on a totally smooth screen if you can’t see.


in 2011 and is now available as a stand-alone app for iOS, aims to offer blind and vision-impaired iPad users an easy way to type Braille notes and perform basic word processing on a touchscreen.


designed for the sight-handicapped, ranging from camera applications that describe the content of an image aurally to other Braille-reading and writing apps. Add to these the


What iBrailler does differently is position its touch keyboard underneath the user’s fingertips, no matter where they set them on the iPad’s slick glass display. Every time you lift and readjust your hands on the screen, the keyboard does too. The keyboard uses Braille English Grade 1, Grade 2, and Six-Dot Computer Braille, and features built-in gestures for tasks like cutting, copying, and pasting text.


are visually impaired, according to estimates by The National Federation of the Blind. Much of that number are able to use computers thanks to the tactile feedback of a keyboard, optionally with raised Braille lettering on top, or a refreshing Braille display.


But a refreshing Braille display can be very expensive—thousands of dollars per unit, according to Ed Summers, a blind computer scientist with business analytics software firm SAS. A Braille keyboard is very different from a QWERTY keyboard, he tells me: eight keys, one for each dot that can compose a Braille letter, and a “display,” a strip of 18 to 80 Braille cells, each housing eight tiny pins that raise to form a letter. Using this, a blind person can type on an iPad (or computer screen), moving the cursor around, reading text, correcting spelling. A small, 18-cell Braille keyboard can run around $1,800, while larger ones can cost in the realm of $6,000.


Sohan Dharmarajah, one of iBrailler Notes’ creators, wanted to offer the benefits of such a keyboard at a more affordable price. This iOS app is


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