The innovations that the Google Translate application has been incorporating in recent times have made it go from being a simple translator to also adding a voice and text communication and identification tool with enormous potential.
In this case, we do an analysis of the potential that these new features may have for people with reduced or no vision and in some cases also for people with reduced mobility.
The Google translator has several input methods of the language to be translated:
For this functionality, use is made of the rear camera of the Smartphone from which the image is taken, being able to choose two different modes of translation:
- Text can be scanned with the camera in real time, so that the translated text is superimposed on the original text of the image. This option is not very useful in the case of people with vision difficulties, but it can be really useful for people with manipulation difficulties who prefer to superimpose the mobile instead of writing text.
- Another option that allows is to take a photograph of the text so that it is analyzed in a more precise way and a translation in text format is delivered to us. This option obtains much more accurate translations than the previously discussed real-time option.
Handwriting allows the writing of characters on the screen in the form of handwriting, so that google can interpret what type of font is being entered and offer a translation into the desired language. This option is useful for languages with complex characters such as Arabic, Chinese, Japanese or Russian, in which we do not have references and the easiest thing is to draw them on the screen for interpretation.
We do not consider this feature to be very useful for people with vision difficulties at the moment.
Text input by voice is a feature that relies on Google's voice recognition systems. This is the main value that the application provides to users with reduced or no vision, as well as to those users with difficulties to enter text using the keyboard. Speech recognition works really well and allows you to enter all the text to be translated using this form and quickly get the translated text.
This functionality allows using voice recognition to maintain a conversation between two people with different languages. Voice recognition is able to differentiate between the two speakers by dividing their sentences on both sides of the screen and offering an instant translation of said conversation.
Full screen function
This functionality is very useful for communicating information to third parties. Take, for example, the case of a deaf or deafblind person who wants to show information to other people outside of their native language environment.
In addition to its ability to be used with screen readers on both Android and iOS, the Google translator incorporates a voice synthesizer that communicates the text aloud in the language to be translated and in the language to which we have translated.
"Touch to translate" within other applications
Google Translate also allows you to activate a pop-up icon in its settings menu that is superimposed on different applications and offers the possibility of clicking to quickly translate messages within those applications.
Let's put ourselves in the case of a person who uses WhatsApp and wants to quickly view the translation of the different messages in a conversation.
This feature makes it easy to quickly copy and paste without having to switch applications on the screen as the translator will overlap the application in use.
Offline is allowed as long as the required language packs have been downloaded:
- Translation via keyboard entered text
- Translation of images both in real time and by photo.
Offline is not allowed:
- Entering text by voice
- Simultaneous conversation translation
- On-screen handwriting input
To download the language packages that you will need in your destination, you must access the Offline translation section of the configuration menu.
It is clear that accessibility is a field that Android and Google are trying to incorporate into most of their products, which they have been doing progressively and which is having more and more impact on the lives of users with different needs.
In this case, the google translator incorporates a series of functionalities that make it a perfect tool for multi-language communication.
- It is the most used app for translation that incorporates great accessibility options, it is not a dedicated app specifically for blind people and we believe that this is the way to go.
- Numerous text input options (camera, handwriting, voice, keyboard)
- It works on different operating systems and devices of all manufacturers, be it PC, Tablet or Smartphone.
- It is difficult to demand more from such a powerful tool, but accessibility is a very broad field, so it can be proposed that future versions take into account other needs such as the use of pictograms or sign language and their conversion from or to different Languages.