How to set up Google’s braille keyboard on your Android phone

(Pocket-lint) – Google offers a unique feature for visually impaired Android users: A braille keyboard.

Braille, traditionally, is a system of raised dots that make reading and writing accessible to the blind or visually impaired. While there are external devices that make it possible to type something in braille on a phone, it’s not exactly quick or a seamless experience. With that in mind, Google made the TalkBack braille keyboard. It’s a virtual braille keyboard integrated directly into Android.

Here’s how Google describes the app:

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. 

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The keyboard has six keys, and each key represents one of six braille dots. They arrange specific letters and symbols together when tapped in combination. You can use TalkBack anywhere you want to type, and it allows you to delete letters and words, add lines, and submit text.

How to find and set up Google’s braille keyboard

You first need to access TalkBack on your Android device:

  1. Go to Settings > Accessibility > TalkBack.
  2. Select settings under TalkBack.
  3. Scroll down to braille keyboard.
  4. Select set up braille keyboard.

Now you can set up the braille keyboard:

  1. In the text box, select Settings.
  2. Turn on TalkBack braille keyboard.
  3. Open an app that you can type in, like Gmail or Google Keep
    • The braille keyboard isn’t compatible with Google Docs.
  4. To get the keyboard, move focus to the text field and double-tap.
  5. Select Switch input method (keyboard icon or Next language (globe icon).
    • If you don’t use Gboard, your options might be different.
    • This option is usually at the bottom right.
  6. Select TalkBack braille keyboard.

When you open the braille keyboard for the first time, you will be able to watch a tutorial for more information.

When did Google launch its braille keyboard?

TalkBack rolled out to all Android devices running Android 5.0 or later starting in April 2020.

Which languages are supported?

The TalkBack braille keyboard is available in Unified English braille, Spanish, and Arabic.

Want to know more?

For more information about how to use the keyboard, go to the Accessibility Help website.

Writing by Maggie Tillman.

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