Gestype: New Phone Keyboard For People With Visual Impairment

iphone is placed next to a computer. The iphone has the gestype keyboard displayed on the screen.

“I really enjoy using Gestype.I use it on an almost daily basis. As a matter of fact, it has become my new favorite way to type on my iPhone.” – Dave, low vision user

Smartphones have made consuming information and communicating with people we know a lot more easier, and great accessibility features, including speech to text, have made navigating phone apps and writing messages more convenient, especially for blind people. However, there are times when speech to text may not be most ideal, and a keyboard may be necessary to type messages. (in a bus, libraries, loud social environments, to name a few) Even if the immediate environment allows for speech to text, the blind user may not want to say out their messages out loud because of privacy concerns. Accessibility features like VoiceOver can help type but going through each letter on the keyboard may be a tad bit cumbersome.

To make the typing experience much easier and quicker for blind people, Tarun Malik has invented a new keyboard called Gestype that enables typing through swipes. The keyboard, designed to be used with both hands,  is divided into two areas or keys (left and right), and various combinations of left, right, up and down gestures are mapped to letters of the alphabet, numbers and symbols. This inclusive keyboard has a learning curve in the beginning, however, after a couple of short training sessions, a blind person should be able to start typing short sentences fairly quickly. Gestype does not assume any prior knowledge of Braille, and supports VoiceOver as well.

Gestype also has built in text to speech which reads back the typed words to the user, and it works well with Auto Correct as well. More details on the keyboard can be found here.

Watch the videos below to see how Gestype works. Tarun is also seeking contributions for improving performance and releasing the app to Apple’s app store. To learn more about Gestype and to make any donations, visit this page.

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