USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF), the support organization for the advancement and adoption of USB technology, has today announced a new USB HID (Human Interface Device) industry standard that aims to simplify the development of braille displays and allow for an improved user experience.
In it's press release, USB-IF describes this new standard as:
a collaborative step toward greater technological accessibility for people who are blind or have low vision. The standard will make it easier to use a braille display across operating systems and different types of hardware. It will also simplify development, removing the need for braille devices to have custom software and drivers created for a particular operating system or screen reader.
“This is another great example of how USB-IF device class specifications can improve people’s lives,” said USB-IF President and COO Jeff Ravencraft. “With more than 1000 members worldwide, USB-IF brings companies together to improve access to technology and provide a seamless user experience.”
Both Apple and Microsoft have been involved in the drafting of this standard, with Sarah Herrlinger, director of Global Accessibility Policy and Initiatives at Apple, quoted as saying that “we’re proud to advance this new USB-IF standard because we believe in improving the experience for all people who rely on braille displays to use their Apple products or any other device.”
Jeff Petty, Windows accessibility program manager lead at Microsoft, is quoted as saying that “developing a HID standard for braille displays is one example of how we can work together, across the industry, to advance technology in a way that benefits society and ultimately improve the unemployment rate for people with disabilities.”
The press release gives no information regarding the timeframe for roll-out of this new standard or its reception and adoption by braille display makers, but it clearly has the potential to significantly improve the setup and use of Braille displays, going beyond what is already offered by Made for iPhone and iOS compatible devices.