Can a person with vision problems, low vision or directly blind have a smartphone? Of course, and to get the most out of this you can use the so-called screen readers, such as Google TalkBack for Android, a function that comes within the Accessibility Options section on mobiles. TalkBack serves as the primary interface through which blind and partially sighted people read, write, email, share on social media, place orders, and even write music.
TalkBack reads text aloud on the screen, navigates through applications, and facilitates communication with braille, speech, and the keyboard. And today Google updates its service with “a completely new version of TalkBack that includes some of the features most requested by the blind community and those with low vision.” Let’s review them:
New multi-finger gestures
In order to improve the user interface, Google has implemented a dozen easy-to-learn and easy-to-use multi-finger gestures that are available with the latest version of TalkBack on Pixel and Samsung Galaxy devices from One UI 3 onwards. These gestures make it easier for you to interact with applications and allow you to perform common actions, such as selecting and editing text, controlling multimedia, and finding help.
For example, instead of navigating through multiple menus and prompts to start or stop your favorite podcast, it is now as simple as double-tapping with two fingers.
Read and listen
Reading and listening is easier with new reading controls that help you find the most relevant information. For example, you can swipe left or right with three fingers to hear only the headlines, hear word by word, or even character by character. Then with a single swipe up or down, you can navigate through the text.
New voice commands
Starting with TalkBack 9.1, you can now swipe up and to the right to use the new voice commands. TalkBack will stop talking and wait for your instructions. With over 25 different commands, you can say “find” to locate text on the screen or “speed up reading” to make TalkBack speak faster.
More language and customization options
The personalization of a mobile is always essential for its user. You can now add or remove options in the TalkBack menu or in the reading controls. Additionally, gestures can be assigned or reassigned to dozens of settings, actions, and navigation controls. Lastly, Google is adding support for two new languages to TalkBack’s braille keyboard: Arabic and Spanish.
TalkBack is now the default screen reader on all Samsung Galaxy devices from One UI 3 onwards, making it easy to enjoy a consistent and productive screen reading experience on even more devices. To help everyone keep up with all the changes, “we have created a completely new tutorial to make it easier to get the most out of TalkBack; there is even a test panel to practice new gestures ”.