Today, many people who are blind or have low vision must cobble together different hardware and software just to use computers. But a new standard backed by some of the biggest names in tech should mean that braille device users wont have to search for custom software for different operating systems and screen readers.
A blind veteran learns computer skills at the Edward Hines Jr VA Hospital in Hines, Illinois. Photo: Scott Olson (Getty)
The USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) announced today that it has worked with technology leaders – including Microsoft, Apple and Google – to create a new Human Interface Device standard for braille display. The standard is intended to make it easier for different operating systems and devices to include braille features.
“The new standard for braille displays will significantly narrow the gap in communication between people who are visually impaired, blind, or deaf-blind and their sighted and hearing counterparts,” said Joseph Bruno, president and CEO of Helen Keller Services, in a statement. “It allows these individuals to more seamlessly connect to their favourite devices, which is a major step in helping them connect to the world around them.”
USB-IF is a non profit formed in 1995 by several companies that developed the USB industry standard. The organisation promotes adoption and implementation of USB technology and protocols.
Microsoft said in its announcement that it believes developers will start adopting the new standard next year.