I’m a millennial. I love how the rapidly changing pace of technology allows us access to so much information. I usually have no qualms about jumping right in when a new, potentially revolutionary service comes out. For instance, I can’t wait to get my hands on an iPhone SE so I can try out Apple Pay, if only to say that I’ve tried it and to understand why Apple hyped it up when they announced it. However, as humans, we generally only like so much change. One change I’ve been averse to is the adoption of UEB in North America.
I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s learning Braille like anyone else, and while I’m not the fastest Braille reader, I used it all through school so it’s what I know. So when I heard about UEB being adopted in the U.S., my knee jerk reaction was “don’t take my grade 2 away!” I didn’t see how the new rules and changes would benefit me.
A change of heart
That was until I started using Braille screen input on the iPhone a lot. I use it for nearly all of my text input on my iPhone, in many cases preferring it to dictation or the stock iOS keyboard. Most of the time I don’t think about it; I just rotor to Braille screen input and start typing.
As I do more and more email and web surfing on my iPhone though, I’m finding little things that get in my way when using the standard contracted Braille code. Typing websites is something where I’ve typically use the regular keyboard because of the way certain symbols get translated. Trying to type .com would translate as 4com, putting me into a Google search because that’s what the phone thinks I’m trying to do.
UEB will also be good for entering passwords. I’m sure most of us have been with another VoiceOver user who’s been signing into something, and you can almost guess what their password is because they have to find the right character on the stock iOS keyboard before entering it. Since UEB is designed to remove ambiguity, it should make entering passwords a lot easier.
That could be really cool. Any resources to help with making the switch?
I’m sure there are a lot more resources for learning UEb than I know of, but I’ve been using this Overview of changes on the Braille Authority of North America website. They also have a learning resources page.
Getting used to something different can be a challenge, particularly when it’s something you’ve been using all your life. I’m sure some of the removed contractions and changes in punctuation will take some time to get acclimated to. Old habits die hard, as they say. But with more and more of my online activities being done on my iPhone, the adjustment from a reading standpoint may be worth the trade off.