Reach out and Touch the new Braille Features in iOS 11

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

IN this podcast, Scott Davert demonstrates and discusses the changes for braille display users in iOS 11 and later. How to set up type to Siri, braille captioning, how to customize braille keyboard commands, and the new settings in the braille menu are covered. A roughly edited transcript follows. Please note, This transcript was created soely for communication access. It is not a certified legal
transcript and may not be entirely verbatim.
Unknown Speaker: Welcome to Applevis.
Scott Davert: Hey, everybody, it is Scott Davert back with an Applevis podcast. This podcast is on what's new for braille users from iOS 11 onward. I'm a little late recording this podcast for a few reasons: one of them being that life has just kind of gotten in the way, and the other being that I wanted to wait for some of these bugs to get worked out which were really well-documented on the Applevis website, but they kind of made it clunky to record a podcast. There are a few little bugs remaining that I'll talk about, but it's gotten a lot better than the first release of 11.0 for sure back in September.

For this demonstration, I'm using my iPhone 8 with iOS 11.2.1, and of course VoiceOver. The first few things I'll talk about here are just a few things that aren't really easy to demonstrate, but they might be important updates for you depending on your situation.

If you have a Focus fifth generation, iOS 11 brings support for that device. Whether you have the Focus 40, or the brand-new 14 that came out about a month ago, you will now have access with iOS 11, and later. So, for those of you who have those devices, you can be happy, and you probably already are happy, using your Focus display with your iOS device.

Another minor, but important update is the fact that emoticons are now accessible with braille displays. Speech users have been enjoying them for quite a while, and knowing all those smiling piles of poo that their young kids, or nephews, or whatever it is might send them, but as braille users they just showed up as a few symbols, and there was really no way to differentiate between one emoticon and another. That has been fixed in iOS 11.0.

Now, I'm gonna go ahead and get into the demonstration part of this podcast. The first thing I'm going to do is take you through how to set up captions, and talk a little bit about that. And we're gonna go ahead and go through the braille menu, and talk about those changes. Then I'll show you how to set up new commands, or assign commands functions, however you wanna look at that, and finally we'll wrap up.

So, I'm going to go ahead, and go directly to the VoiceOver menu. On my particular setup here, I am going to use a Backspace, Space with V. That is a command that I programmed in to take me directly to the VoiceOver menu.

VoiceOver: Settings, Accessibility, Back button.
Scott: So, to set up captioning for braille displays, or speech users, and this also applies to subtitles, I need to find verbosity, so I'll hit Space with F.
VO: Enter search text.
Scott: V-E-R-B, enter.
VO: Verbosity button.
Scott: There we go, verbosity. It went right to it. Sometimes that works, and sometimes it doesn't. I'll go ahead and activate the verbosity settings.
VO: Selected, VoiceOver, Back button.
Scott: I'm not going to go through the rest of this menu because Thomas Domville already did a podcast on these things, and I also documented them in written format, but I am going to go ahead and show you how to set up the audio descriptions, as they call it.
VO: Determines how Closed Captions + SDH are output during media playback.
Scott: All right, I hit Space with 4, 5, 6 to go to the last item. Now, I'll hit Space with dot 1 once.
VO: Media Descriptions, Braille button.
Scott: Media Descriptions which aren't really the descriptive audio track that you might be thinking they are. They're actually the Closed Captioning if available. This works on iTunes with the movies that have it, and it also works on Netflix. I don't think it works on YouTube, but that may have changed since I looked at it. Let's go ahead and go in here.
VO: Verbosity, Back button. Media Descriptions heading.
Scott: I'm just flicking right.
VO: Off. Speech.
Scott: So, you can have speech. So, when the subtitles come up, if you have audio ducking on it'll obviously drop down the level of what you're listening to, or watching, and do the speech output. Depending on how you have things configured, that may be the way you like it, or you might just like to have it set in the background.
Vo: Selected, Braille.
Scott: Braille is selected--
VO: Speech and Braille.
Scott: --but you can also augment that speech with braille, or vice versa.

So, let's talk a little bit about this for a second because a lot of people have had the misunderstanding that this is going to be the perfect solution for deaf-blind people to watch TV. That's not really the case. If you do not have any residual hearing or vision, you still can't follow what's going on. First of all, because all you get is the actual dialog, and sometimes depending on the video it'll say loud noises in background, or something like that, but that really doesn't tell you anything either. So, you'll be getting the dialog, sure, but you're not going to get any of the context to understand A. who's speaking, and B. what sort of things are going on on-screen. So, for people like myself, for example, it really does help offset the challenge I have of being able to understand dialog, but for another individual who doesn't have any hearing or vision it's not really going to help them very much.

You also need to be a really fast braille reader because the braille display output zooms by as quickly as the speech in the captioned video that you're watching. I'm going to get outta here with Space, and B.
VO: Media Descriptions, Braille button.
Scott: I need to hit back, Space with B again.
VO: Accessibility, Back button.
Scott: Now, we're back into the main VoiceOver menu, and I will hit Space with F, and type in B-R-L for braille.
VO: Enter search text. Braille, RefreshaBraille 27178968 button.

Scott: And now, we have reached the braille menu.
VO: Selected, VoiceOver, Back button.
Scott: And let's have a look at what we have here.
VO: Braille heading. Output, Contracted.
Scott: This hasn't changed.
VO: Input, Contracted.
Scott: Neither has that.
VO: Braille Screen Input, Six-dot.
Scott: Almost entirely unchanged.
VO: Status Cells button.
Scott: Let's have a look in here.
VO: Braille, Back button. Status Cells heading. STATUS CELLS POSITION heading. Left. Right.
Scott: Now, what you may be saying is "wait a minute, that's the end of the menu." Right now, it is because I don't have left or right selected, so the menu doesn't come up. But if we go back, and I'm gonna put them on the left--
VO: Left. Selected, left.
Scott: --and now, underneath right that menu will magically appear.
VO: Right. Show General Status, off.
Scott: That has not changed.
VO: Show Text Status, off.
Scott: Text status is brand-new. I'll go ahead and turn that on.
VO: On.
Scott: And now there is no formatting because I'm just in a menu.
VO: Show Text Status, on.
Scott: And that is all we have. Now what the text status will do is it will show you a full cell followed by a representation of different things depending on what the formatting of your text is. When you get into a note, for example, you can see what formatting is up. And if you're not really sure-- I'm not going to cover what dot means what, I will let you do that on your own-- if you're not really sure what dot represents what type of formatting, you can hit the cursor routing button that is located underneath the status cell, and it'll bring up a little handy key that you can use to figure out what those dots mean. The status cell, the first one that now they're calling general, is unchanged, but this formatting option is something new. I'm going to go ahead and turn this back off.
VO: Show Text Status, on. Off.
Scott: Now, I'm going to go ahead, and go back to the braille menu with Space, and B.
VO: VoiceOver, Back button.

Scott: And let's continue our journey.
VO: Out-- Braille Screen-- Status Cell-- Equations use Nemeth Code, on.
Scott: That's unchanged.
VO: Show Onscreen Keyboard, off.
Scott: Unchanged.
VO: Turn Pages when Panning, on.
Scott: Unchanged.
VO: Word Wrap, on.
Scott: That is something new. By default, it's on, and the on setting is what you're going to be used to if you've been running iOS prior to 11. What word wrap is is it will make it so that you're not going to have a part of a word on one line of braille, and then another part on the next line of braille. So, let's say, for example, I'm reading along, and I encounter the word choose. So, if I have word wrap off, I might, for example, see C-H-O-O, and then when I pan forward I'll see the rest of the word with S and E. So, if you're on a really small display, and you like that kind of a function, now you have that ability.
VO: Braille Code, English (Unified) button.
Scott: That's unchanged.
VO: Alert Display Duration, 1s.
Scott: Also unchanged.

VO: CHOOSE A BRAILLE DISPLAY... In progress. Selected, RefreshaBraille 27178968, Connected button.
Scott: I'm going to go one option beyond this to the--
VO: More Info button, 1 of 1, Actions available.
Scott: I'm going to activate that.
VO: Braille, Back button.
Scott: And let's see what we have here.
VO: RefreshaBraille 27-- Braille Commands button.
Scott: Aha, Braille commands! This is where you go in to assign different functions either new commands if they don't have one already associated with them, but you can also override the different commands to make your own set if you'd like. Let's go ahead and check this out.

VO: RefreshaBraille 27178968, Back button. Braille Commands heading. Braille button.
Scott: We have here a bunch of categories.
VO: Device button. Interaction button. Keyboard button. Navigation button. Rotor button. VoiceOver button. Reset All Braille Keys Assignments button.
Scott: And the wonderful reset all braille keyboard assignments button. So, if you really mess stuff up, you should still be able to come in here, and change it.

If you do have more than one braille display, it's important to note that when you assign a command it's only going to apply to that specific braille display. Each time you connect a braille display, you will have to do these things over again.

I think the reason Apple did this was because each braille display has a lot of different keys whether it be lack of them, or more of them. For example, the Braille Edge has eight function keys which are all usable on iOS, and you can program all of those function keys to do something different. Obviously, if you're on a Focus, you also have a lot of different controls at your disposal, rocker switches and all these things, and those are unique to the Focus. So, Apple has given you a way to assign each display its own unique set of keyboard commands.

The advantage there is, of course, that you have a lot more options, and a lot more possibilities of things that you may wanna do. The drawback, of course, is that you have to remember what you did on each display. So, if you're gonna do this, it's probably a good idea to do it slowly, and to try to make the commands as simple as possible.

What I have done is I have assigned them actual braille keyboard equivalents. So, instead of say F5 on a Braille Edge, or the rocker button up on the Focus, or D6 on the VarioUltra, I just use the same command set for each display like I did earlier with Backspace, Space, and S for Siri, Backspace, Space with V for VoiceOver, and so on, and so forth.

I'm going to combine this section with the Type to Siri section of this demonstration. To set up Type to Siri on your braille display, you would be able to do Type to Siri by pressing and holding the home button, or we can come in here, and assign a braille keyboard command. I happen to know that the command that we're looking for is under device, so I'm going to go ahead, and go to that category.

VO: Rotor. Navigation. Keyboard. Interaction. Device button. Braille Commands, Back button. Device heading. Control Center button. Home button. Notification button.
Scott: Like I said, all these functions have braille display commands already. You can come in here, and reassign them if them if you'd like.
VO: Rotate Device Left button. Rotate Device Right button. Show/Hide Keyboard button. Siri button.
Scott: Here we have Siri. I'll go ahead and select that.
VO: Device, Back button. Siri heading. Braille Keys heading. No Assigned Braille Keys, dimmed.
Scott: Now, if there is one, it will tell you what that key is. I'm going to assign a new command to this function.
VO: Assign New Braille Keys.
Scott: There we go.
VO: Alert, Press Braille Keys.
Scott: I am going to choose Backspace, Space with the letter S for Siri.
VO: Assign New Braille Key button.
Scott: And there it goes. What I have found is if you don't do it right away, sometimes you may have to go out and come back in to make it happen because it only waits for a certain amount of time before it no longer accepts input. So, if you have that problem just go out of the settings screen to the home screen, and come back in, and it should work fine. Now, if I press Backspace, Space with S-- What's the temperature outside?
Siri: Brrrrr, it's 26 degrees outside.
Scott: I guess it must be winter. Now, we can also set up Type to Siri. I'm going to go back here a few menu levels to do that.

VO: Braille Commands, Back button. RefreshaBraille 2717. Braille, Back button. VoiceOver, Back button. Accessibility, Back button. General, Back button.
Scott: Now, we're at the Accessibility main screen. I'll do Space with F.
VO: Enter search text.
Scott: Siri.
VO: Siri button. Selected, Accessibility, Back button. Siri hea-- Type to Siri, off.
Scott: Turn that on.
VO: On.

Scott: And we're ready to go. Now, I can go ahead and type something in, and it should work. Now, the thing to keep in mind is that sometimes it will not land you in a text field unfortunately, and so you will have to scroll around a little bit to make that happen. I'm going to hit Space, Backspace and S now. It came up. Braille said Type to Siri. I'm just gonna type hello, Space with enter. And it doesn't work cuz I'm not actually in the text field.
VO: Text field, Is editing, Type to Siri, insertion point at start.
Scott: There it is, and I can verify it because the cursor is blinking. Now, I'll type hello. Hello.
Siri: Hi, Scott.
Scott: If I want to have a look at that on the braille display--
VO: Text field-- text field, is editing. Ta-- Help button. Listen button. Help button. Hi, Scott.
Scott: I have to do a little scrolling backwards. I hit Space with dot 1 4 times. So, unfortunately, you do have to do a little scrolling around, and it's a little clunky, but the main point for me at least is that it is still there. And I'm able to type to it if I don't really want to, and you can also have Siri respect whether your mute switch is on or off, so if you would like to use it without any speech at all, you do have that as a possible option.

There are several new iOS 11 commands for braille displays that come by default, and the ones that I find I use most often relate to the Bluetooth keyboard. So, if I press Space with dots 1, 7--
VO: Command.
Scott: Space with dots 2, 7--
VO: Option.
Scott: Space with 3, 7--
VO: Control.
Scott: Space with 4, 7--
VO: Shift.
Scott: Space with 5, 7--
VO: Fn.
Scott: Space with 7, and 6 does nothing, so if you wanted to assign a new command to that function, you could. We're not done, though. Space with dots 1, 8 will toggle the Command key. Space with dots 2 and 8 will toggle the Option key, and it goes all the way through 3, 4, and 5 respectively. The reason for toggle, and the difference between the two is that if you are someone who types a little more slowly who wants to enter a Bluetooth keyboard command-- For example, Command B would turn bold on when you're writing something, you could do Space with dots 1, 8 to toggle on the Command key, press the letter B, and then Space with dots 1, 8 again, and that would toggle the Command key off. It's basically simulating holding it down, but if you're fast you don't need to do that. You can just do Space with 1, 7, and then the letter B.

Let's have a look now at the email app briefly, and show you just how quickly that can make things.
VO: Settings, Type to Siri, on.
Scott: Get outta Siri, get outta settings.
VO: Enter search text. Dock. Mail, five unread emails. Unread, KliphnSharrie Miller Sr, [varioultra] Battery life? 6:08PM. Unread, Christine & Mary, Braillists Forum, sending braille books and magazines overseas, 5:26PM, 3 messages in thread, Actions available.
Scott: Let's say I want to look at this thread of messages. These are all public mailing lists, by the way. I'm not giving you any of my private email. Sorry if that's what you were looking for.
VO: Selected, Inbox, five unread messages, Back button. Inbox, four unread messages, Back button.

Scott: And now we're in the thread of messages. I'm not going to read through them, but say I wished to reply to this. I could hit Space with dots 1, 7 for Command--
VO: Command.
Scott: --and then R.
VO: Command. Message body. To, braillists (at) googlegroups (dot) com, text field.
Scott: And now I am in the compose window. I'm obviously not going to send this cuz I haven't even read the messages yet.
VO: Send button. Re: Braille-- Cancel button.
Scott: There we go. I hit Space with dot 1 a couple times to cancel.
VO: Inbox.
Scott: Now, let's go back to the inbox, and out of this thread of messages.
VO: Unread, Cliff, Re: BDU For Sale: Barely used BrailleSense Polaris with 32-cell display, 6:04PM.

Scott: Let's create a new message. I can do that with Space and dots 1, 7 followed by the letter N.
VO: Command. To, text field is editing, character mode, insertion point at start.
Scott: And now I am placed in the "to" field. I'm gonna go ahead, and send an email to myself. scottdavert (at) gmail (dot) com.
VO: Add contact. CC/BCC. KC8PNL (at). Subject, text field, insertion point at end.
Scott: Hello.
VO: Notify-- Message body, sent from my Ipho-- Insertion point at end. Insertion point at start. Hello, this message is S-- sent F--
Scott: Actually, it typed confirm. So, speech is not really that useful here when you're typing in the Mail app. It does not do this in other apps, but it does do it in the Mail app. I'm saying this is to confirm you are a loser who likes to talk to himself. And I can let you hear that if I want. Let me go back to the subject, and then forward.
VO: Message body, text field. Hello. This is to confirm you are a loser who likes to talk to himself.
Scott: All right, I stopped it with Space, and P. So, let's say that's all I wannted to say, and I quickly wanted to send it off. There is a command to do that as well, and that is Command, Shift, and the letter D. I don't know why D, but that's what Apple has assigned it as a keyboard command, so now if I hit that keyboard sequence--
VO: Command, Shift. Unread, Cliff, Re: BDU For sale--
Scott: Yeah, we know. We heard already. And off it went, and I will have a new email to delete when we're done with this podcast.
There are some issues with entering text, and the cursor sometimes not being where you'd like it to be, but those issues are way better than they were under the first release of iOS 11.

And one of the things that I forgot to mention that I pretty much take for granted these days is that now you can write more like you do on a notetaker instead of having to worry about translation getting in your way. And what I mean by that is with iOS versions earlier than 11, if you typed the word sport, and then Space then you decided oh, i wanna make that plural cuz I'm in America, not in Europe or the rest of the world, you can now hit Backspace, and then enter S, and then Space again, and it will correctly enter it in for you as sports. As most of you probably know, prior to iOS 11 that would've given you sportso, and that's not a word as far as I know.

Anyway, I hope you have found this podcast useful. If you wanna get in touch with me, feel free to leave a comment in the podcast section, and I will reply as I'm able.

For Applevis (dot) com, I'm Scott Davert. Have a great day, and thanks for listening!
Unknown Speaker: This podcast has been brought to you by the community of Applevis. For the latest in resources, and tips and tricks to help you get the best experience from your Apple device, visit us online at www (dot) applevis (dot) com.




Submitted by Scott Davert on Saturday, January 13, 2018

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Given the nature of this podcast, a transcrip has now been added for those who may need it. Thanks are in order to the anonimous person who volunteered their time to create this transcript. They have my gratitude.

Submitted by Brian Tew on Sunday, January 14, 2018

Super. thanks.
One tiny possible errer:

VO: Siri button. Selected, Accessibility, Back button. Siri hea-- Type to Siri, off.

Maybe it really says hea-- whada I know?
Dare to be anal I say.
Great job on this.

Submitted by Scott Davert on Monday, January 15, 2018

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

The speech was interupted, so it is indicated as such on the transcript. I hope this helps clerify and am glad you found the transcript helpful!