New Android app provides accessible onscreen keyboard

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Wednesday, 12 January 2011 17:25pm

A new Android app, Touchtype, will provide Android owners who are blind or vision impaired with their first accessible onscreen keyboard, an accessibility feature that is currently lacking in Android.

Touchtype is an iOS-inspired onscreen keyboard for Android devices developed by Nolan Daerilek, who also created the Android screen reader Spiel.

The app is not only an onscreen keyboard, but also provides spoken feedback when arrowing through text fields and provides (optional) spoken feedback for shift and alt keys, along with common Android action keys.

These added features provide “a partial solution to many of Android’s current accessible input limitations,” Daerikek claims.

To date, people who are blind or vision impaired were advised not to purchase an Android device with an onscreen (i.e. touchscreen) keyboard due to its lack of accessibility. Touchtype will potentially open up the Android market to this community, although it should be noted there are still other accessibility concerns with Android.

The first (alpha) version of Touchtype was made available yesterday for Android owners to download, test and provide feedback. Keep in mind that an alpha version means that the app is still in the early stages of development and may not work smoothly. Those who are not comfortable with this may like to wait for a future release.

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