Ten Useful Tips for Braille Users of iDevices

From time to time, we at the business desk are pleased to bring you articles
that can help you to deal more effectively and efficiently with the wide
world of technology. If you are struggling to keep up or are a bit lost
when it comes to being able to do things on your own without having to ask
or pay for help then we invite you to read on.
Today we have a great little article for you;
Ten Useful Tips for Braille Users of iDevices
We hope you find this article useful. Have a great day.
The business desk team
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Ten Useful Tips for Braille Users of iDevices
ACB Braille Forum for April 2014
by Scott Davert

** Introduction

This post was partially inspired by articles which give general advice about
seemingly less-known features of an iDevice. You will also find blog entries
on other tech topics scattered throughout the Internet which have similar
tips for pretty much any mainstream type of technology. To add to this body
of literature,

I have compiled 10 useful tips for braille users of the iPod, iPhone, and
iPad below. This article was written with the intent to provide both those
who are new, and those who are more advanced braille users, with some new
and helpful tidbits of information. These tips come from my knowledge as a
braille user of iDevices, as well as from my work in the field with other
individuals who are deaf-blind who also use braille with their iDevices.

**1. Improving the connection process

If Bluetooth is enabled, each time you press the Home key on your iDevice,
it will search for other Bluetooth devices which it can connect to. This
includes braille displays that have already been paired. So to have a
greater chance of getting your iDevice and braille display to start
communicating immediately, it is a good idea to have your braille display on
and in discoverable or terminal for screen reader mode before unlocking your
iDevice. As long as the 2 have been
previously paired, and that braille display is the chosen one in VoiceOver,
the pairing process should commence very quickly. It is true that you can
sometimes get the braille display to connect while turning it on with your
iDevice already unlocked, but this will not always be successful.

**2. What’s with the funky symbols in iOS 7?
If you are a braille user living in the U.S., Canada, UK, or any other
country which has not officially adopted Unified English Braille
yet, you may be wondering what the deal is
with some of the braille translation. The issue is that iOS 7 automatically
uses the Unified English Braille table, no matter how your regional and
language settings are configured. This includes if you had previously
configured a different translation table in English prior to upgrading to
iOS 7. If you wish to switch
back to U.S. or UK braille, go in to Settings, General, Accessibility,
VoiceOver, Braille, and then select Translation table. Select 1 of the 3
choices, and your braille will switch to that translation table.

**3. Noisy VoiceOver, quiet display
In iOS 7, you can turn off VoiceOver sounds without impacting system sounds.
This is useful if you wish to receive sound alerts about notifications, but
find the clicks and beeps of VoiceOver to be annoying. There are two ways of
doing this.
You can either add it in to your rotor settings with VoiceOver or go to
Settings, General, Accessibility, VoiceOver, and then turn the “sounds” off.

**4. What was that again?

Sometimes, VoiceOver gives you a result or displays information which
flashes up in braille and then disappears. One example of this is with the
Looktel Money Reader app,

another when getting a result with TapTapSee,
and a 3rd in certain hints with Dice World.
Fortunately, starting with iOS 6, you can read it
again if you didn’t catch it the first time. To do so, press space with N
and you can then review a history of the last few things VoiceOver sent to
the braille display at your own pace. To go to the previous item, press
space with dot 1, and press space with dot 4 to advance through the history.
When you’re done reviewing these messages, press space with N again to
return to wherever you were in iOS.
Note that while you are reviewing these messages, pressing space with dot 1
or dot 4 will still move the VoiceOver cursor, so once you press space with
N the second time, you may be returned to a different point on the screen.

**5. Dude, where’s my battery life?
Anyone who uses external hardware that connects through Bluetooth, whether
it’s an external GPS receiver, headset, keyboard, or braille display, can
attest to the fact that it is quite the battery hog. While logic may dictate
that using the screen curtain will help save battery, since it makes the
screen go dark, this is not true. The screen curtain is, quite literally, a
curtain that goes over your
screen and is a VoiceOver-specific function. You can verify this by turning
your screen brightness up to 100 percent while the screen curtain is enabled
and watching your battery do a downward spiral. You can also feel heat
around the edges of the screen after using your device with the brightness
set this high
after several minutes. Instead, you may have guessed it, set your screen
brightness to 0 percent. Just remember to bring the screen brightness back
up some when you wish for a sighted user to see your screen clearly. You can
do this by going in to the control center in iOS 7. With earlier versions of
iOS, you can also adjust the screen brightness by going into settings,
brightness and
wallpaper, and then making the adjustment this way. For even more practical
ways to conserve battery power, please see David Goodwin’s article called
Tips For Improving Battery Life in iOS 7
at www.applevis.com/guides/ios/tips-improving-
battery-life-ios-7.

**6. Hey, what’s this button do?
While most modern-day braille displays have a Perkins-style keyboard and
cursor router buttons, they also have some buttons which make them unique.
They are configured to help make your life easier in various ways. For
example, they may scroll in a certain direction and be located in such a way
that you can operate them while not having to take your hands off of the
display. While the manual and the various commands listed on apple.com are
great, it’s not always convenient to
pull up such a list. Fortunately, iOS has you covered. From anywhere in iOS,
press space with K to activate VoiceOver help. This will allow you to not
only press buttons and keyboard combinations to find out what they do, but
will also let you practice gestures and keyboard commands that you may use
if you have a bluetooth keyboard. These are messages that flash up, so press
space with N if you miss them the first time. To exit keyboard help, press
space with B to activate the back button. You will be returned to where you
were before entering this mode. Note that when there is no message flashing
up, the braille display will still show the last thing that was on it before
you entered keyboard help.
This is a known bug that has been reported.

*78. Hurry up, why don’t you?
In iOS 7, there have been many changes to the user interface. While most of
these do not impact braille users directly, there is one that can affect the
performance of your device. This is called reduced motion. Go in to
settings, general, accessibility, and under the vision heading, turn on
“reduced motion.” This will cause less battery drain and should also speed
up your device a bit more, as there is less demand on the processor when
this feature is turned on.

**8. But can do? I don’t think so!
Some people may be shrugging their shoulders at the title of this tip, but
anyone who knows contracted braille will not be. For some braille users,
they enjoy using contracted braille, but their typing speed for inputting
this method may be slower than the device likes. If you wait too long
between letters, for example, if you wanted to type out the word “float,”
you may end up with “fromlikeoathat.”
This is because after a few seconds, the Apple braille driver assumes that
when you enter a single letter, you want that to be the one-word equivalent.
In iOS 7, there is a feature which allows you to turn off this automatic
translation. Go into settings, general, accessibility, VoiceOver, braille,
and then turn this feature off. Doing this will make it so that nothing is
translated until you press either space or backspace. The drawback to this
is that you cannot see words as you type them, and editing becomes rather
cumbersome since you must hit space with 4-5 in order to translate something
without hitting the spacebar. So
while this may be a good feature for those who can keep track of what
they’re writing, it’s a feature I’d use only when writing a document. You
can always re-enable automatic braille translation when you are editing
something if you wish,
so it’s just another option. Alternatively, pressing space with G from
anywhere within the operating system will toggle between contracted and
uncontracted braille. While it may take slightly longer to type out
uncontracted braille, you may find that it actually saves you time in the
long run since you will not have to go back and correct all of those
mistranslations. Note that if you choose to type in uncontracted braille,
you will need to use the computer braille symbols for punctuation marks and
numbers such as the period (dots 4 an 6), the question mark (dots 1-4-5-6),
etc. Turning contracted braille on and off is a feature with
all versions of iOS that have braille support.

**90. The braille master is at the controls
Also new in iOS 7 is the control center, which gives you easy access to what
Apple feels are essential controls that you need convenient access to such
as wi-fi, Bluetooth, Do Not Disturb, and many others. While touch-screen
users must tap the status bar and then swipe up with 3 fingers, a braille
user can simply press space with dots 2-5 from anywhere in iOS and be
presented with the control center. Hit a cursor routing button above the
toggles to change them instantly. Press space with B to exit when you are
done with the control center.

**10. Get notified
Similarly, touch-screen-only users will need to tap the status bar and then
swipe down with 3 fingers to pull up their notifications center. As a
braille user, you can instantly pull up your notifications center by
pressing space with dots 4-6. As before with the control center, press space
with B to exit the notifications center.

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