In Brief

Google, Apple and Microsoft team up to create new Braille standard

The USB HID standard make it much easier to use Braille displays across different devices

Technology giants including rival firms Google, Apple and Microsoft have got together to create a new standard for Braille computer accessories. 

The group of tech firms, operating as the non-profit USB Implementers Forum, hope the Braille standard will help to make computing more accessible to blind users and those with low vision, Engadget reports. 

At the moment, some Braille displays only work with certain PCs, or require additional software and drivers to use, says CNet. The new USB Human Interface Device (HID) standard will make it easier to use Braille readers across operating systems and hardware.

Blind or low vision users will be able to plug their Braille display into a PC, Mac and Android devices and use it instantly, just like a conventional USB mouse or keyboard.

The new software standard will also help streamline the development process for tech manufacturers making accessories with Braille displays. 

Jeff Petty, Microsoft’s accessibility programme manager, said: “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.”

Tech giant will start integrating the new software standard into their products as soon as next year, says Alphr.

The announcement marks another significant step by tech companies towards improving accessibility. 

Last month, Microsoft unveiled a new Xbox controller that aims to assist gamers with disabilities.  The controller, which takes the form of a board with different buttons and touchpads, has 19 inputs that allow gamers to plug in specialised accessories to improve usability.

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