Android device image

The multinational technology firm is building out-of-the-box support for users of braille displays so that they can navigate Android devices more easily, thanks to helpful user feedback.

Available in Google’s next Android 13 Beta, which is due to be released very soon, the firm is building support for braille displays in TalkBack – Google’s screen reader within Android.

TalkBack speaks the user’s screen aloud, navigates through apps, and facilitates communication with braille, voice and keyboard input. The screen reader is designed for people who are blind or visually impaired to read emails, share social media, order delivery, write music, and much more.

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Braille displays create braille patterns by raising rounded pins through holes in a flat surface. Braille-literate computer users use a braille display to touch-read braille dots representing text as well as type out braille. These devices help people with vision impairments access mobile phones.

Previously, people connected their Android devices to braille displays using the BrailleBack app, which required a separate download from Google’s Play Store, or used a virtual keyboard within Talkback instead of a physical device.

Google’s latest update will mean that no additional downloads are necessary to use most braille displays.

People will be able to use braille displays to access many of the same features available with TalkBack. For instance, users can use display buttons to navigate their screen and then do activities like compose an email, make a phone call, send a text message, or read a book.

There are also new shortcuts that make it easier to use braille displays with TalkBack, such as shortcuts for navigating so it is easier to scroll and move to the next character, word or line. There are shortcuts for settings and for editing, like jumping to the end of documents or selecting, copying and pasting.

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