We are going mobile! Not only am I typing this blog on my iPhone but I am using a very exciting new technology designed specifically for blind touch screen users. While the app has yet to be released to the general public, I have been selected as one of the beta testers the name of this new amazing technology is called Fleksy and after only using it for a few days all I can say is wow!
There have been several amazing apps released on the iPhone for the blind. There are money identifiers, color identifiers object recognizing technology, even games but one of the biggest problems the blind encounter is communicating. And while I know a lot of you think siri has fixed that I am sorry to say that it hasn’t while siri has definitely improved blind users ability to use a touch screen siri doesn’t always work. Additionally the ability to type something instead of dictating it when you are out and about is very nice as sometimes you do not want the entire world to hear what you are sending.
So how does it work? Fleksy is designed to work with voice over which is already preinstalled on every iPhone. You will toggel voice over on and off with a triple click of the home button. You do this to switch between the typing mode and the menu mode. If you are like me and know the position of all the keys on a standard keyboard than typing on a touch screen can be quite annoying as it really slows you down. And the problem with siri and other dictation programs is a lot of the time it misunderstands what you are saying. The amazing thing about Fleksy is all you have to do to type is touch and swipe. That’s right it is that simple.
While the iPhone has improved the typing with Voice over since its initial release, as you now have to choices you can double tap to select a letter, or touch a letter have it read and then selected, this is still a pretty big time constraint. The amazing thing about Fleksy is you just touch the screen where you think the letters are to the word you are typing, than swipe right when done and Fleksy reads the word it believes you have typed. It is amazing how accurate the app is if you know how to spell. Though sometimes you are off a letter, and it announces a wrong word, when that is the case, all you have to do is swipe down and Fleksy announces the words closest to where you have touched. If you hear the word you want you just swipe right and continue on typing. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world, and computers are even less perfect so some times it will not recognize the word you are typing. When that is the case all you have to do is swipe left and it delete the entire word you are typing so you can start again. On the traditional iPhone keyboard you would have to take the time to hit the delete key several times to delete every character. Also sometimes Fleksy may not recognize the word you are typing if this is the case, just slow down make sure you are spelling the word you want correctly than just flick up once to select it. There are also some nice shortcuts built in to Fleksy swipe twice to the right and it inserts a period, if you want a comma or question mark, etc just swipe up or down to choose what you want.
After typing the message you want you can than again triple click the home button and swipe to the right to access the main menu. You are than presented with the choices to email, text message, tweet, or copy the text where you can than go and paste in to another app like I am doing here with this blog.
Up until now, I have loved my iPhone and all the amazing apps that help me in my daily life, but absolutely hated typing on the iPhone. Well, thanks to Fleksy that is no longer the case!