By: Martin Courcelles, Specialist, Web Accessibility and Adaptive Technology
Lately, on Twitter feeds, blogs and podcasts everywhere, people who are blind and partially sighted have been talking about a new typing app for the iDevices called Fleksy. It has pretty much revolutionized the way they type. But, what gets me is the fact that this app doesn't even need to be considered as an accessibility tool.
Here's a quick blurb on the app from the Fleksy web site:
How does a blind person type on an iPhone? Actually, a blind person can now type faster and easier than many sighted people. Yes, it's possible.
Fleksy is a state of the art text input system for touch-screen devices.
Fleksy allows visually impaired users to type text on the familiar keyboard layout, by tapping on the screen. Our patent pending technology does not need accuracy – just tap on the screen and Fleksy will automatically detect the text you meant to enter – even if you have missed every single key.
So here's a quick "Martin run-down" of how it works...
Imagine you were typing the word "computer." Visualize a keyboard layout that would fit on your iDevice and just start typing. Don't worry about the placement so much as approximation. Every time your finger hits the surface, a click is heard giving you the cue to type another letter. Once done the word, swipe right with your finger. Your iDevice will speak the word it figured out. If it's not right, you can swipe down to hear other suggestions, or swipe left to delete the word. Want to add punctuation? Swipe right one more time and you will be in that mode. Swipe down to go through the punctuation list.
So, that's the basics of the app. There is definitely more to it, but I'll let Fleksy guide you through all that you need to know, since it has a robust help system.
My original point stands however. This app should also be marketed to the rest of the Apple community. I'm glad this was designed with the blind user in mind, but I could see so many other individuals benefiting from this sort of word predictive typing scenario. If you are sighted and you know how to touch type, then this app is for you. There is a visual keyboard that is displayed, but you acquire the speed when not looking at it and simply typing approximate positions. I find it refreshing when an app designed for blind people in mind inadvertently does a crossover to the sighted population. I urge you to give it a try. At $14.99 Canadian, it is priced a bit higher than other apps, but it is truly worth it. Your typing speed will definitely increase. I hear the next version will have even more bells and whistles.
I'd like to hear what you think of this app. Feel free to leave comments at the bottom of this blog entry.
For more information on Fleksy and demonstration videos, visit their web page at: http://fleksy.com/