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Braille Talkback keyboard

Braille Talkback Keyboard Icon
Overall rating:
  • 5/5
Related reviews:
  • Braille Talkback keyboard
  • Braille Keyboard Comparison vs. Normal Keyboard
  • Main Interface Braille Keyboard

What does it consist of:

Helping visually impaired people to enter the technological world is a fundamental task and this built-in Braille keyboard natively in Talkback (Android screen reading functionality) is a further step forward in the inclusion of this group. In the use of technological devices, we will analyze the keyboard in Android because Talkback is exclusive to this operating system.

It is a virtual Braille keyboard that is part of the Talkback environment to facilitate writing from the mobile screen to people with visual disabilities, developed by Google with the help of Braille experts.

Forms of Acquisition:

The Braille keyboard is a native Android functionality and therefore free for devices that incorporate adroid from version 5.0.

As it is an option included within the Android accessibility ecosystem through Talkback, in order to use the braille keyboard, we must first activate TalkBack and deactivate the extension, to avoid possible compatibility problems.

Here is a guide of the steps to follow to facilitate the activation of the Braille keyboard:
 
- Step 1:: We open the Settings functionality.
- Step 2:: We select Accessibility.
- Step 3:: Click on TalkBack and then on Settings.
- Step 4:: We select the Braille keyboard.
- Step 5:: We select Tap to configure.
- Step 6:: In the dialog box, we select Settings.
- Step 7:: We activate the TalkBack braille keyboard.
- Step 8:: We open an application where you can write.
- Step 9:: We move the focus to the edit field to start.
- Step 10:: To switch to the TalkBack braille keyboard, select Change input method Input in notifications.
 

Technical verification:

Author: Julian Maria Morejon Carmona
Date: February 2021
 
The Talkback Braille keyboard is a screen input method, which is part of the accessibility application developed by Google, called Talkback, included, but not activated, by default on Android devices. 
 
The great advantage of this keyboard is that we do not need any additional hardware to be able to write text on the device, acting as a virtual keyboard.
 
In addition, its development together with Braille experts, guarantees its ease of use for anyone who is minimally familiar with this language, being very intuitive and simple to use, except for some commands to follow related to navigation.
 
In this review we will do an analysis of the Braille keyboard focused on Android mobile devices with version 9, since it is an exclusive application of this operating system.
 

Interaction

Next, we analyze how the keyboard interacts with the user and the user with it. We will start by analyzing the interface.
 

Interface

After having activated it, each time we go to write, the keyboard will be shown on the device screen by means of six circles that represent the six braille dots. They will appear vertically in two rows, each of which encompasses 3 points. Note that the first time you use it, you will be shown a tutorial to teach us the position in which we should place the device to write. It will also show us a series of commands, implemented in a very efficient way to perform certain essential actions on the keyboard.
 
On the keyboard, we also have its options, all of which are quite interesting, such as the option of being able to see the tutorial again, switch to plain Braille, view gestures and finally access to settings.
 
The interface, therefore, is simple, as required by the keyboard to meet its design objectives, however it offers the user a very complete interaction and makes handling it a simple and intuitive task. 
 

Affordability

This keyboard itself is an option for easy accessibility, in this case. for people with visual disabilities, however we will proceed to carry out an analysis for the different groups of people with disabilities.
 

Visually impaired people

As we have commented previously, the application as a whole is an accessibility option for people with vision difficulties, in addition to highlighting that it is perfectly implemented with the usability of Talkback, with an appropriate labeling for the screen reader, since it is capable of reading including all aspects of the initial tutorial, ensuring that anyone in this group can use the keyboard without any complications.
 

People with hearing difficulties 

The application does not present inconveniences for its use in the case of people of this group, since all aspects of the keyboard are represented visually, as well as the visualization of what we write with it, so that anyone with a hearing problem , you can easily use the Braille keyboard.
 

People with physical difficulties

Although the application is not focused on this group, it could be used by this group depending on the person's disability, those that affect the motor skills of the upper extremities would make it very difficult to use it, since even if they were used push buttons the fact of having to press several options on the screen at the same time or perform gestures would make it very difficult to handle the person with the keyboard, being more convenient for these users to use the buttons with the common keyboard of the device. 
 

User Experience

Next, we analyze the degree of satisfaction of the user when operating with the keyboard. In addition, to study the utility it provides.

Interaction

The interaction with the keyboard feels fluid, due to its great design, making it easy to write with it, even if you are not used to Braille, although sometimes the interaction is not perfect, not recognizing well the numbers selected on the keyboard or gestures, point to be improved, since it could cause problems for users with visual disabilities, since they can misspell the letter or word and not realize it or make it difficult to interact with the keyboard.
 
On the other hand, comment that each letter that we enter will appear in large size on the screen when we perform the necessary gestures to write it and TalkBack will read the screen with the letter that we have just entered, which is an added value to the design and interaction.
 
In summary, the interaction with the application is quite fluid and well designed, although on certain occasions a bit more polish is needed in the interaction.
 
 

Conclusions

After testing it carefully, we can conclude that it is a great advance in the field of accessibility for people with vision difficulties, but that still needs to be improved in some aspects and add support for more languages, apart from English.
 
In summary, if they continue to develop and introduce improvements, it can be an essential app for many people in the group, since anyone who uses braille will enjoy and thank very much for the greater ease in being able to express themselves or not having to use external devices to to write.
 

Highlights

  • Design: Very successful and careful development, thinking that the end users will be people with visual disabilities.
     
  • Comfortable- Acts as a virtual keyboard, eliminating the need for the user to use an external device to type.
     
  • Tutorial: contains a very successful tutorial to explain how it works, bringing all kinds of users closer to using the keyboard.
 

Improvement points

  • Performance improvements: As we have commented previously, the keyboard sometimes does not adequately recognize the gestures or what we have entered, damaging the user experience, so further polishing of the functionality and implementation of improvements is necessary.
     
  • Language support- Currently only supports English Braille, which may add an extra level of difficulty for some users, so introducing support for more languages ​​can improve the end-user experience and increase the user base.
 
 
 
 
  • Design and manufacturing: 4 5 on.
    4
    This section refers to the physical aspects and details of the manufacturing of the technological product
  • User experience: 4 5 on.
    4
    This criterion is linked to the user's assessment when relating to the technical product or application.
  • Technical benefits: 5 5 on.
    5
    Description of the quality of the technical specifications of the technological solution
  • Accessibility: 5 5 on.
    5
    It is the degree to which people can use or access a product, technological solution or service, regardless of their technical, cognitive or physical abilities

Social valuation:

Date: June 2022

On this occasion we have had the help of the Red Cross volunteer, Andrés Oteo, to assess the operation of the Braille Keyboard offered by Talckback.

 Andrés is a blind person with whom we like to collaborate at TECSOS to analyze and validate products for people with reduced or no vision. The tests of the Braille Keyboard have consisted of carrying out the process that a person would have to do to activate it and checking its operation.

The telephone that has been used during this evaluation has been a Mi Note 10, which, as will be seen later, has a series of design aspects that will have to be considered when the Braille Keyboard is going to be used.

First, comment on the process of activating the keyboard. No notable problems arose, although navigating through the menus and checking that everything is configured correctly can be a bit tedious. The only negative point that Andrés pointed out was in relation to the keyboard change button, since it could be somewhat small and unintuitive.

The next aspect to cover is the tutorial that it offers when activating the keyboard for the first time. During the tests, Andrés did not complete it and preferred that we teach him how it works. This is because the explanations given were too artificial and the amount of information transmitted may be excessive for the first time.

Regarding the operation of the keyboard, the different evaluations that the volunteer gave of each mode during the tests will be given.

  • Remote screen mode: Andrés considers that this mode is not very practical mainly because of how you have to place your hands. The reasons that he argued were that it is uncomfortable to use the phone in that way and that if you also have small hands the difficulty increases a lot. These evaluations could have been different if a mobile with a smaller screen had been used, however, this does not take away from the fact that, for Andrés, the design of the mode is not very ergonomic.
    In addition, he commented that he did not like the layout of the buttons since it differed a lot from the conventional braille display and it was as if he were writing in reverse.
  • table mode: This is the mode that he liked the most and he thought that it fulfilled its mission correctly.

In his opinion, the ideal would be to have only one keyboard mode activated so as not to worry about what position the mobile is in. In addition, he believes that the investment of the points would have to be done individually for each mode. With how the keyboard is programmed, only one of the modes has the button layout according to the conventional braille display, so when you invert the dots, the mode that had the wrong position of the dots becomes correct, but the one that already it was correctly, it ceases to be.

On the other hand, during the tests there were moments of confusion because Talkback indicated that random letters were being erased when typing and it was because the search autocomplete was activated. This type of problem arises in other applications in which text auto-completion can also be activated, such as instant messaging applications.

Finally, we must highlight some thoughts of Andrés related to the design of the keyboard and the mobile. Andrés commented that when using a phone with curved edges, the sensitivity of the screen on the sides is too great, being able to make wrong keystrokes very easily when moving the hands. Another aspect that he highlighted was that there were times when it was difficult for him to differentiate when he moved from one button to another. It is for all this that he recommends using a phone with a case, not only does it allow the curvature to be covered, but the case also provides a mobile phone, regardless of its design, with physical references to the screen and position of the fingers

In general terms, Andrés considers that the braille keyboard offered by Talkback does its job correctly but that he needs to correct the different effects that he has told us about.

 

 

 

  • Impact and utility: 3 5 on.
    3
    Describes to what extent the functionalities of the product are useful and impact on improving the life of the user
  • Usability and accessibility: 4 5 on.
    4
    Possibility of the device to be used, understood and taken advantage of under equal conditions for anyone
  • Design and ergonomics: 3 5 on.
    3
    Assessment of how the design of the technological solution adapts to the person to achieve greater comfort and efficiency when using it
  • Ease of Acquisition: 4 5 on.
    4
    It refers to the possibilities of accessing and acquiring a technological solution by the user.

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