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This article was published on May 31, 2018

Apple, Microsoft, and USB-IF team up to standardize braille displays

Apple, Microsoft, and USB-IF team up to standardize braille displays
Callum Booth
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Callum Booth

Editor of Plugged by TNW

Callum is an Englishman in Amsterdam, but not in the way you're thinking. He's the Editor of Plugged, TNW's consumer tech vertical. He w Callum is an Englishman in Amsterdam, but not in the way you're thinking. He's the Editor of Plugged, TNW's consumer tech vertical. He writes about gear, gadgets, and apps — with a particular focus on Apple — and also makes the occasional odd video. Basically, he's halfway between an abrasive gadget nerd and thinky art boy.

Apple, Microsoft and the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) have announced a human interface device (HID) standard for braille displays. This collaboration is huge news for people who are blind or suffering with low vision, as it will make using a braille display across different hardware far, far easier.

The idea is that it removes the need for braille devices to have specially designed software or drivers. This will substantially reduce development time and, hopefully, open up the market. You can find more information in the release.

I’ve got to say, I was shocked this wasn’t already a thing. With computers being so central to the way society now operates, the previous lack of a standardized system is shameful.

However, it’s good to see companies taking accessibility more seriously. Initiatives such as Microsoft’s new Xbox controller or, even simpler, options for individuals with eye issues on iOS or Android, are solid steps forward.

While there’s a lot more to do, it’s good to see the industry heading in the right direction. For once.