BrailleEasy, a custom one-handed Braille keyboard developed in Qatar, has now been launched on the iOS App Store.
The application was developed by researchers at the Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI), one of Hamad bin Khalifa University’s three national research institutes.
The Braille keyboard was developed by Barbara Šepič, Abdurrahman Ghanem and Stephan Vogel, in close collaboration with the Qatar Social and Cultural Center for the Blind (QSCCB), Al Noor Institute for the Blind and MADA (Qatar Assistive Technology Center).
It combines the comfort of one-handed typing with the speed of two-handed Braille-like typing, and can be used by both Arabic and English-speaking users.
Ikrami Ahmad, QSCCB’s Activities Coordinator and Assistive Technology Specialist, described BrailleEasy as ‘a great achievement’.
It comes with an extensive tutorial that walks the user through step by step, the set of gestures is easy to learn and execute, and being self-voicing makes it possible for those who do not depend on screen readers to use it fully.’
‘It also paves the way for those with limited hand movement to type in Braille on their touch screen. I have personally heard from several people on forums and mailing lists that it enables them to use their working hand to type in Braille faster than the traditional way of typing.’
Stephan Vogel, the Research Director of QCRI’s Arabic Research Technologies, said the app was released for free and its code has been released as open source.
Dr Vogel said:
The idea is to send BrailleEasy out into the community so that other developers, both local and worldwide, can add to it, improve it, adapt it to other languages.’
‘Developing the app in collaboration with the local community has been a very rewarding experience.’
BrailleEasy is available on itunes.apple.com/qa/app/brailleeasy