Wow! Martin has been eating his Nerd cereal this morning, hasn't he? So, what's an input interface? Well, read on and I'll try to shed some light on this oh so interesting topic.
You've got this new shiny IDevice, and you're slowly learning how to type on it. In other words, inputting information. The folks at Apple have done a pretty clever job at making this process fairly painless. When there is a need to type on the IDevice, a virtual keyboard appears. With VoiceOver turned on, you can become pretty efficient at using this method of typing. Slide a finger over the keyboard until you hear the desired letter. While keeping the finger in that position, utilize another digit to tap on the screen. You will hear the letter repeated in a higher voice. This means that your input was successful. Please note, when within a password fields, the letters will not be spoken when successfully type. Instead, you will hear a clicking sound.
This sort of input is okay for small edits and the like, but could become rather cumbersome when faced with longer typing tasks. However, fear not, there are solutions.
With a quick trip to the Apple store or similar establishment, one can procure an IDevice compatible Bluetooth keyboard for under $100.00. Once connected, or paired, with the device, you have yourself a pretty snazzy note taker. Furthermore, with the newest version of the IDevice platform, you have full VoiceOver functionality. Meaning that you can completely control Voiceover directly from the Bluetooth keyboard.
Here are the steps to pairing a Bluetooth keyboard:
1. Make sure your Bluetooth keyboard is turned on.
2. On the IDevice, Double Tap On settings, general and then Bluetooth.
3. Swipe through the options and double tap on Bluetooth if it is turned off.
4. Swipe through the devices and double tap on the Apple Keyboard.
5. If it's the first time that you are doing this, VoiceOver should give you a numbered code which you will need to type on the keyboard in order to pair the devices. Enter this number and press ENTER on the keyboard to send the pairing request.
That's it. You should only need to do this once, unless the IDevice forgets the pairing. Now you can control and type anywhere in the IDevice applications. Response is very quick. For an extensive list of all VoiceOver keystrokes while using a Bluetooth Keyboard, visit this blog.
Thanks to HLLF for this great resource.
If you're an avid Braille user, there are a few options out there. The Braille Connect 12 from Humanware is the most portable display I found up to now. This particular display has 12 cells, a Braille keyboard and other navigational keys. The advantage of this display is that it's the same size as the IPod or IPhone. It fits easily into a shirt pocket. The downfall is the amounts of cells, but you get used to it. There is also a 24, 32 and 40 cell version of this device.
The other option which I've had the opportunity to look at is the Refreshable 18 Braille display from APH. Having more cells, it's a bit longer and it's also a bit thicker. I do prefer its keyboard over the one for the Braille connect however.
There are many other Braille solutions out there as well. As long as the display supports Bluetooth and is on the list of compatible Braille displays for the family of Apple products, you should be okay. Please note that some Braille displays do not have a Braille keyboard on them, just navigational keys. You would then have to revert back to the virtual or a Bluetooth keyboard. I find it most convenient to have the Braille keyboard built into the Braille display.
For more information on Humanware products, visit: www.humanware.com
For more information on APH products, visit: www.aph.org
For a list of compatible wireless Braille displays for Apple IDevices, visit: http://www.apple.com/accessibility/iphone/braille-display.html
Pairing a Braille Display:
Pairing a Braille display is done via the VoiceOver options. Here are the steps:
1. Make sure Bluetooth is turned on. See steps 1 to 3 for the Bluetooth Keyboard for more information.
2. Double tap, settings, general, accessibility, Voiceover and finally swipe to the Braille option and double tap that as well.
3. Swipe through the options. You can change them to your liking. When you get to the "Choose Braille device", Option, double tap your Braille display name. If it is not shown, make sure the Braille display is turned on and that your Bluetooth is on as well.
4. Once paired, you should hear a beep and the Braille display should start displaying information.
5. To figure out what keys do what on the Braille display, visit the practice voiceover gestures under the accessibility, VoiceOver menus, and start pressing the keys. The options will vary depending which Braille display you have.
Well, that's it for now. I think I need a refill on my nerd cereal.