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Frequently Asked Questions - updated March 6, 2013

General Questions

Questions about using BrailleTouch

What is BrailleTouch?

BrailleTouch is an iPhone app that lets you type on your touchscreen using braille. It features a unique split keyboard design that is based on the layout of the braille cell and the dimensions of the iPhone screen, rather than the traditional straight line six-key keyboard as found on the Perkins Brailler. To type with BrailleTouch, 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. 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 a braille chord, tap the screen with the same fingers you would use on a standard six key braille keyboard.

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Will BrailleTouch work on my iPhone or iPod Touch?

BrailleTouch is compatible with the iPhone 3GS and later models, and the iPod Touch 3rd Generation and later models. BrailleTouch requires the iOS version 5 operating system or higher.

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Will BrailleTouch work on my iPad?

No. BrailleTouch is designed for the iPhone and iPod touch, and not for the iPad.

In the university research that inspired BrailleTouch, we tried out both an iPhone and an iPad. While some people liked typing in braille on the iPad, it was a frustrating experience for others. Because of the larger screen area, people's hands tended to drift across the screen over time, which introduced typing errors where the machine interpreted the wrong braille dots. The small size of the iPhone screen naturally constrains your hand positions, so typing in braille on an iPhone or iPod touch is more accurate. A touchscreen braille tablet is possible, but it is a more challenging software problem to make it work well for everyone. So at this point we are focusing on the iPhone and iPod touch for BrailleTouch.

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Is BrailleTouch available for Android phones?

We hope to offer BrailleTouch for Android smartphones in the future. Unfortunately, the Android Explore by Touch accessibility layer is not compatible with our BrailleTouch software at this time. Read more.

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Does BrailleTouch support languages other than English?

Not yet. But we are working on it. If you would like BrailleTouch to support your non-English language, please send us a feature request.

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Does BrailleTouch support Grade 2 contracted braille?

Not yet, but contracted braille is our top priority for a future update. Please check back to this website to see our progress.

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Why doesn't BrailleTouch use a Perkins-style horizontal keyboard layout? Why the split braille keyboard?

We designed BrailleTouch with the split keyboard layout based on the braille cell for two reasons. First, the split keyboard allows you to hold the phone in your hands and type when you do not have a flat surface available to put the phone on. Second, the touchscreen is not wide enough for most people to fit their six fingers in a row as on the Perkins Brailler. The entire glass face of the iPhone is not touch-sensitive. The iPhone will only sense your fingers touching in a smaller area in the center of the glass.

You can try this for yourself. Turn on your iPhone and go to the home screen. Lay your phone flat on a table in landscape orientation. Now arrange your fingers on the glass like you would on a Perkins. Try to tap each braille dot individually, and VoiceOver will speak the app on your Home screen that you touched Most people find that dot 3 on the far left and dot six on the far right will not register on the touchscreen. Even though your left and right ring fingers are on the glass face of the iPhone, they are not on the touch sensitive area in the center of the glass. This is why a horizontal straight line keyboard will not work for most people on the iPhone.

Some people have discovered an interesting way to type with BrailleTouch with the phone laying flat on a table. Arrange your hands on the screen in the shape of the letter V. Your two index fingers will be closest to you and in the middle of the screen horizontally. Your left ring finger will be on the left corner of the screen farthest away from you. Your right ring finger will be on the right corner of the screen farthest away from you. First align your hands by individually finding dot 1 (letter A), dot 3 (apostrophe), dot 4 (at-sign), and dot 6 (capital). Although this is not the official way of using BrailleTouch, it works well for some people. This way of using BrailleTouch is closest to the traditional Perkins keyboard.

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How do I change the settings for BrailleTouch? I can't find the Settings menu.

The BrailleTouch settings are under the main iPhone settings. Press the Home button and launch the iPhone Settings app. You will find BrailleTouch near the bottom of the screen. From there, you can change various settings. The most commonly used setting is for Speech Feedback. When VoiceOver is turned on, you can choose to hear each character you type, each word you type, or both characters and words.

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I do not want BrailleTouch to add "Typed with BrailleTouch" at the end of my emails. How do I turn this off?

Go to the BrailleTouch Settings and look for "BrailleTouch Email Signature". You can turn this setting off, and BrailleTouch will not add "Typed with BrailleTouch" to the end of your email messages.

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When I try to type on the braille keyboard, VoiceOver just announces my orientation. How do I start typing?

Tap once with one finger on your touchscreen. This will enable the braille keyboard. VoiceOver requires you to tap on the screen before you start typing. If you rotate your iPhone and change the orientation, you will also have to tap once before you begin typing again. If you switch back to the BrailleTouch keyboard from the Home screen or from another app, you will have to tap once to begin typing.

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I am stuck on the braille keyboard. How do I get back to the BrailleTouch menu?

To get to the menu, you need to flick left with two fingers. Most people use the first two fingers of their left hand - the same fingers you would use to type the B chord. After you perform this two finger left flick gesture, you will leave the braille keyboard and go to the menu screen, where you can hear the text you typed and choose an action. Remember that you have to tap once to activate the keyboard before you can do the two finger left flick.

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Does it matter which landscape orientation I hold the phone in - home button on right or left?

If you lock your phone in Portrait Orientation, then it does matter. When you type in braille, hold the phone with the screen facing away from you and the home button on your right and the volume buttons on the top edge near your thumbs. All of the instructions are written this way because it will work for everyone. If you do not lock your phone in Portrait, then you can use BrailleTouch in either landscape orientation. The braille keyboard screen will automatically rotate to either landscape mode, depending on how you hold the phone.

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Why does VoiceOver say "Home Button on the Left" when the Home button is on the right?

VoiceOver does not know you are holding the phone with the screen facing away from you. When VoiceOver announces the phone orientation in BrailleTouch, it will reverse Left and Right. VoiceOver announces the orientation from the point of view of where the screen is facing. Imagine that another person is facing you and the screen is pointed at him or her. When the home button is on your right, it will be on the other person's left.

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The braille keyboard layout feels reversed to me.

Please go to the BrailleTouch settings and trying turning on "Flip Dots 1&3, 4&6". This alternate keyboard layout feels more intuitive for some people.

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I don't want other people to see what I am typing with BrailleTouch.

BrailleTouch displays each character you type visually on the screen. If you do not want other people to see the characters you are typing, you can turn on the screen curtain. Triple tap with three fingers to activate the screen curtain. Please note that you cannot activate the screen curtain when the braille keyboard is active. You can activate the screen curtain from other screens in the BrailleTouch app, and from the keyboard before you tap once to begin typing. For more information about the screen curtain feature of VoiceOver, please refer to Apple's documentation.

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I can't find the Send button on the Email or Text Message screen.

There is a bug in iOS 6.0.1 on the email and text message screens in landscape orientation. Go to the BrailleTouch settings and make sure that "Email & Text Message Orientation" is set to "Force Portrait". You can then use the email and text message screens holding the phone normally, facing you in portrait orientation.

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The speech feedback is sluggish. How do I fix this?

First try turning VoiceOver off and back on again. Many people have triple click home set to toggle VoiceOver on and off. If that doesn't work, try closing BrailleTouch in the App Switcher and starting it again. After that, try restarting your iPhone. Some people have reported that the latest version of iOS resolves the sluggish speech feedback in BrailleTouch. You may want to try updating iOS. We are also investigating possible reasons in the BrailleTouch app that some people have observed sluggish speech. We will update the app based on any issues caused by the BrailleTouch software.

If you are still experiencing sluggish speech feedback in BrailleTouch, please email us directly at info AT brailletouchapp DOT com. Please let us know what version of iOS you are running, which model of iPhone or iPod touch you have, and anything else that may help us to recreate the problem.

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I purchased the upgrade to the full version of BrailleTouch. I want to put it on my second iPhone or iPod touch, or on a new or reset device. How do I restore the full version without being charged again?

Download the free trial of BrailleTouch from the App Store. Then choose upgrade from the BrailleTouch menu. Make sure you use the same Apple ID on this device that you used to purchase BrailleTouch. Choose the "Restore Purchased Version" button from the Upgrade menu screen.

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