Braille Input

image of braille study

Braille is still one of the most important reading tools for blind people. Studies in the USA have suggested that braille assists blind people in obtaining education and employment, and yet according to a report by the National Federation of the Blind in 2009, fewer than 10% of the USA’s legally-blind population are braille readers, and less than 40% of functionally-blind people. Researchers in Dundee are working on tools to support braille learning using touchscreen and keyboard devices. The classic Perkins Brailler braille typewriter has been transposed to the smartphone in the past, but errors are common due to a lack of feedback to the user. With help from INESC-ID at the Technical University of Lisbon and LaSIGE at the University of Lisbon’s Department of Informatics, a system is being developed that notifies the user of the chord via a series of vibrations felt through the fingers. The HoliBraille case can be attached to a Samsung Android phone, and markedly increases the accuracy of chord input on a smartphone. Researchers are also developing games that make it entertaining for users to learn braille from scratch. Researchers are also developing an “autocorrect” system for multi-touch braille on touchscreens called B#, which uses an algorithm to correct chord errors, in much the same way as a standard smartphone corrects spelling mistakes. When the wrong chord is tapped in, B# draws on a list of chords that are similar to the chord in question, and substitutes the one that fits best with the sentence around it. The paper on B# was given a Best Paper award at this year’s ACM CHI conference in Toronto.