Korean-based startup Dot Inc. is rolling out a new tactile braille display that is compatible with iPhones and iPads. The tool, called Dot Pad, is currently available to developer communities.
The tool is also compatible with Apple’s built-in screen reader called VoiceOver. Individuals with blindness or low vision are able to tap into the tool for a tactile representation of images and texts from Apple devices.
“Many blind/low-vision users around the world rely on iPhone and iPad, due to the industry-leading screen-reader VoiceOver,” Dot Inc. cofounder Eric Ju Yoon Kim said in a statement. “We are very excited that Dot’s tactile technology is now optimized for VoiceOver, and that this will expand digital accessibility. Beyond speech or literary braille, these users can now feel and improve their understanding of images.”
WHY IT MATTERS
Vision impairment or blindness impacts 3.4 million individuals in the U.S. over the age of 40 years old, according to the CDC. The agency estimates that roughly 80 million individuals in the US have “potentially blinding eye disease.” These conditions include cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma.
The total cost of vision impairment, including treatment and loss in productivity, is about $35 million.
Dot Inc. is pitching its technology as a way to help developers create new technologies for individuals living with vision impairment.
“My wish is that many global developers within Apple’s ecosystem can use this API to develop games, entertainment and educational apps compatible with our tactile display,” Ki Kwang Sung, cofounder of Dot Inc., said in a statement. “There is a growing opportunity for blind/low-vision users to connect through visual games and educational tools.”
THE LARGER TREND
Many large tech companies have begun to focus on the accessibility space. In May 2021, Apple released a slew of new software features designed for people with mobility, vision, hearing and cognitive disabilities. Its SignTime feature lets users communicate with AppleCare and Retail Customer care using sign language. Its AssistiveTouch lets users navigate an on-screen cursor via gestures.
In September, Google rolled out new Android features aimed at helping people with speech and motor impairments navigate a smartphone.