MBraille is a free iOS app for an onscreen keyboard that lets blind users tweet and send text messages using contracted or uncontracted English braille.
The app's command line enables blind persons to enter braille characters, eliminating the need to navigate menu structures on the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. It also eliminates the need for a a Bluetooth keyboard such as the BraillePen or Focus 14 Blue.
MBraille, developed by MPaja Software, grew from an earlier program, Braille Touch, developed by Georgia Tech University.
The app is also available in a “Pro” version that enables users to perform more functions via braille, including:
- Call contacts or telephone numbers
- Compose and send email
- Update one’s Facebook status
- Add calendar entries
- Execute Google web searches and other queries
- Automatically have typed text saved to the clipboard when you switch apps
- Interact with other 3rd party applications.
While most braille apps simply support input from outside keyboards, MBraille opens a braille keyboard (consisting of the six dots of the braille cell) on the iOS device’s screen.
MBraille on an iPhone lets users type in two ways:
- Place the device on a table and use the modified braille keyboard layout like a refreshable display
- Hold the iPhone horizontally with the screen screen facing away and placing three fingers from each hand, vertically typing away at the six dots.
MBraille has its own set of commands, e.g. dial_john finds John in your contacts and calls him. In addition to braille characters, iOS gestures facilitates data entry.
To enter a space, swipe right with one finger
To erase a letter (backspace), swipe left with one finger
To delete the previous word, swipe left with two fingers
For a new line, swipe down with one finger.
You can type and edit text and preview what you’ve typed. To enter preview mode, press and hold dot 3 on the braille keyboard.
Swipe left or right with one finger to hear the previous or next word, which VoiceOver will speak aloud to you.
Swipe up to preview by sentence.
Swipe down to preview one character at a time.
Note-taking, spell check, and file management features are in development -- as are dot commands to work better across applications, including integration with BlindSquare.
MBraille, version: 1.7.1, requires iOS 6.1 or later, is compatible with iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch, and optimized for the iPhone. File size: 1.7 MB.
Supported Languages: Danish, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Norwegian, Polish, Spanish, Swedish, and Turkish. Italian, Portuguese, and Slovakian are supported, but with no online help.