Why it matters: As the world becomes more connected, reliable access to technology has become a near-necessity for many. The USB Implementers Forum is looking to make this pill a little easier to swallow for blind individuals by introducing a USB standard for Braille screen readers. This standard could allow blind or deaf-blind individuals to use their accessibility devices on a plug-and-play basis, eliminating the need for additional software or driver downloads.
The tech industry has been aiming to make their products more accessible to those with various physical disabilities for some time now.
Indeed, earlier this month, Apple expanded their “Everyone Can Code” tutoring program to schools for the deaf and blind.
Now, Apple, Google, and Microsoft, as members of the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF), are teaming up to develop a brand new USB Human Interface Device (HID) standard for Braille displays.
For the unaware, the USB-IF is a non-profit coalition of tech companies whose primary goal is to bring USB connectivity to as many modern devices as possible.
At any rate, the Braille display standard in question will allow blind users to use their Braille screen-readers on a plug-and-play basis, across all major devices and operating systems.
“The new standard for braille displays will significantly narrow the gap in communication between people who are visually impaired, blind, or deaf-blind and their sighted and hearing counterparts,”
“The new standard for braille displays will significantly narrow the gap in communication between people who are visually impaired, blind, or deaf-blind and their sighted and hearing counterparts,” said Joseph Bruno, CEO of Helen Keller Services.
If you’re a blind or legally blind individual yourself, this news will likely come as a breath of fresh air. If the USB-IF’s project is successful, irritating driver downloads and difficult-to-use software could be less of a necessity moving forward.
Unfortunately, the USB-IF has not announced an official launch date for this standard, so it might be a while before blind or deaf-blind individuals can take advantage of it.