Technology – Fleksy Paving the Way for Visually Impaired Touch Screen Typing

As costs have fallen recently, many of you have entered into the smart phone world by way of the iPhone and its wonderful VoiceOver software that comes standard with each device. While VoiceOver is an incredible piece of software that allows a visually impaired individual to interact with a non-tactile phone, there are still companies looking to accent the software and make the overall iPhone experience even easier for the visually impaired user.

Enter Fleksy, a new touch typing text input app designed with the visually impaired in mind. Fleksy works similar to other predictive text input apps in that it can guess what you’re typing as you type it out. For instance, if you were to start typing the word “house,” by the time you typed the letters “h” and “o,” the program would already be well on its way to finishing the word, allowing the user to type faster.

But Fleksy has taken this process a step further. Their algorithm not only predicts the word you’re going to type, but predicts it based on what letters are near the word you’re intending to type as well, making it an even “smarter” program choice for the visually impaired. In a product demo, they show someone typing the word “arrange” to be sent in a text message. The word appeared on the screen quickly, but the user typed the letters z w y s b h r. The program recognized that all the letters of the word “arrange” were within close enough proximity to the letters that were typed and so that’s the word that was displayed, rather than the jumbled text.

Now, while predictive text is not perfect, and certain words are typed close enough to each other on the keyboard that there may be mistakes, this is a very large leap forward in touch typing and it should enable anyone who knows the general layout of a classic QWERTY keyboard to type faster than they would normally be able to while using the iPhone. Fleksy will allow the user to send the text via text message, email, or copied for use in other apps.

The makers of Fleksy, Syntellia, have submitted the app for Apple’s approval and hope to launch it in the app store soon. They’re also hoping that Apple likes the keyboard option enough that they may consider building it into their VoiceOver system.

For those of you with iPhones, check the app store in the coming months for any updates. If you try it out, let us know your impressions in the Reader’s Forum.


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