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Friday, January 31, 2014

Journey Towards Braille with iOS 7

Braille is the greatest boon for visually impaired people from Frenchman - Louis Braille. Now, how the Braille users will communicate with the world? Yes! Necessity is always the mother of invention, Apple has come with a solution that facilitates the Braille users with a means of communication through smartphone. Apple has introduced a new feature in an earlier version of the iOS, which translates Braille to text and vice versa, through which Braille users can share documents or messages to the world.

Now, Apple’s iOS 7, provides seamless access to communicate the Braille content with their advance features. Some of the features are listed below which tells you potential and limitations with the Braille display.

Braille Translation Table:

In iOS7 the UEB(Unified English Braille) is made as the default language which makes braille users more convenient to use. Through Voice Over's settings you can switch back to English US which is recommended for children or others new to learning Braille. However, early adopters who are confident in their Braille can use the default settings to get familiar with UEB. Note that not only the displayed Braille show in UEB, but the setting will also affect what happens when you write using the six keys.

Toggling Automatic Translation:

The Automatic Translation which translates Braille to print provides toggling through which users can input their complete text, setting the translation off and then turning it on to translate. This feature provides consistency in the input from the Braille users who type slow. Again, the problem with this translation is, Braille user feel more complicated to edit some content because they can verify the content only after the translation is activated.

Display Math Equation:

Nemeth - Code for Braille Mathematics, is a display feature which is recently introduced in iOS 7, is used to identify the math equations very easily. The math equations which are represented in graphical images, would not catch the attention of the Braille users and they tend to skip them. iOS 7 do not support such feature of identifying graphical math equation and few notations such as subscripts and superscripts.

Font Attributes:

In Braille few symbols are used at the beginning and at the end of a word or a sentence to indicate that the word or sentence is italicized or underlined. Unfortunately iOS 7 did not provide such feature. This would be a notable limitation for Braille because italicizing or underlining a word or a sentence has different contexts and usage. Therefore not supporting italic and underline font attributes can disrupt the meaning and purpose of a number of texts that use the attributes. So, hope iOS 7 will extend its font attribute support to overcome this problem.

Braille Support Changes:

Apple’s Braille display already support some editing option such as “select all” and “copy” but in their updated version i.e., in iOS 7 they did not provide the above features. May be this can be implemented in forth coming versions.

With the iOS versions getting updated frequently, iOS Braille users will get enhanced features out of it. Accessing images as tactile graphics on iOS devices would be a key benefit for the visually impaired. Developing support for tactile images on iOS devices might not be a far fetched dream for Apple, if all their accessibility support initiatives are an indication to go by. This can certainly add a few new milestones in the journey towards Braille on iOS devices for Apple.

Ref: https://nfb.org/blog/atblog/journey-toward-braille-potential-and-limitations-using-braille-idevices

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