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What is BrailleTouch?

Photo, using BrailleTouch

Looking for a faster and easier way to type on your iPhone or iPod touch? BrailleTouch is a revolutionary app for the blind community that lets you type on your touchscreen using braille. Many people have reported typing at 30 words per minute or faster with accuracy. Check out this audio clip, taken from the AppleVis demonstration podcast.

Try it before you buy it!

We offer a free download of BrailleTouch so you can try it at no cost. You can enter braille on the touchscreen and hear each character or word as you type. The free version is also a great teaching tool for braille instructors and students.

The real power of BrailleTouch is in the full version, available as an In-App Purchase. After upgrading, you can send text messages, tweets, and emails from the touchscreen braille keyboard. You can also copy text that you enter using braille and paste it into any other app on your iPhone.

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How does BrailleTouch work?

BrailleTouch features a unique split keyboard design that is based on the layout of the braille cell. Dots 1, 2, and 3 are arranged vertically on the left side of the screen. Dots 4, 5, and 6 are arranged vertically on the right side of the screen. To type with BrailleTouch, you hold the phone in a special way with the screen facing away from you in landscape orientation. You can find more information in our User Guide and FAQ.

Most people are able to start typing in braille on their touchscreen right away. For others, it takes a little time to get used to the unique split braille keyboard. After some practice, they are able to braille quickly and accurately. If you are having trouble at first, please read the Help in the app and feel free to contact us directly at info AT brailletouchapp DOT com. We are happy to help.

The trick to typing with BrailleTouch is to hold your iPhone in a special way. Place the phone in landscape and hold it with two hands from the left and right sides respectively. Now turn the phone around so the screen is facing away from you. The standard orientation is with the Home button in your right hand and the volume buttons on the top edge.

Now adjust your hands so you can lift the first three fingers of each hand off the screen and move them freely. Some people support the phone from the sides by pressing in with the palms of their hands. Some people support the phone with their thumbs on top edge where the volume buttons are and their little fingers on the bottom edge. Please experiment to find what grip works best for you and allows you to type with maximum ease and comfort.

The left side of the screen is dots 1, 2, and 3 arranged vertically. You can tap dot 1 with your left index finger and BrailleTouch will speak the letter "A". You can type dot 3 with your left ring finger and BrailleTouch will speak "apostrophe". You can tap dots 1, 2, and 3 with the same fingers of your left hand as you would use on a Perkins Brailler.

The right side of the screen is dots 4, 5, and 6 arranged vertically. You can tap dot 4 with your right index finger and BrailleTouch will speak the "at-sign". You can tap dot 6 with your right ring finger and BrailleTouch will speak "capital".

After you have found the four corners of the touchscreen and are comfortable tapping dots 1, 3, 4, and 6 individually, you are ready to start brailling on your touchscreen. Try practicing the alphabet slowly at first. If the braille dots feel reversed to you, there is a setting to "Flip Dots 1&3, 4&6" that some people prefer.

The current version of BrailleTouch is based on US English and North American Grade 1 uncontracted braille. It supports upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and most punctuation. We are working on support for Grade 2 contracted braille and languages other than English for a future update. We are also working on editing capability from the touchscreen braille keyboard for a future update.

For best results, we recommend using a case in order to grip the phone more comfortably. Headphones may also be helpful to avoid covering the speaker next to the Home button.

BrailleTouch is designed specifically for iPhone and iPod touch. It is not designed for use on an iPad. BrailleTouch will run on iPhone 3GS or higher, iPod touch 3rd generation or higher, and requires iOS 5.0 or higher. BrailleTouch is fully compatible with VoiceOver.

What's new in version 1.2?

New "Restore Purchased Version" button, to easily download for your second iPhone or iPod touch.

Portrait orientation works for email and message screens.

Use colon after number sign, so you can type a time of day like 2:00pm.

Fixed bug if tweets are more than 140 characters.

Quiet key click sound for characters, when set to Words Only speech feedback.

Improved User Guide and Welcome Screen.

For Sighted Users

Sighted users who are interested in learning to type braille with BrailleTouch can download the printable braille alphabet chart. The left column of each braille cell corresponds to the first three fingers of your left hand, and the right column corresponds to the first three fingers of your right hand. When you hold the phone with the screen facing away from you, imagine that you are looking through the back of the phone at the braille chart so your six fingers line up with the six dots in each braille character.

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