The option to use Morse code has been available on Android for the last few months, having been announced in May, and represents a huge leap forward for accessibility. As Morse code consists of a series of dots and dashes, and therefore only uses two keys, it can be hugely useful for users who find it difficult to use a regular keyboard.
to bring the mode to life, Google worked closely with Morse code expert Tania Finlayson, who helped Google to design the layout and add customizable options to fit as many disabilities as possible. Speaking of her own life experiences and how much learning Morse code has meant to her and changed her life in Google’s blog, Tania hopes that the development means that more disabled people will be able to feel included in modern technology, and is excited for the future that her work on Gboard may bring.
“I’m excited to see what people will build that integrates with Morse code—whether it’s a keyboard like Gboard, a game, or educational app, the possibilities are endless. Most technology today is designed for the mass market,” said Tania. “Unfortunately, this can mean that people with disabilities can be left behind. Developing communication tools like this is important, because for many people, it simply makes life livable.”
Morse code was developed in the 1800s, and despite never really falling out of use in various industries (the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard still use Morse code via signal lamps to communicate), the use of Morse code has mostly become a hobby amongst the general population. However, with Google’s recent addition to Gboard, there’s never been a better time to try out Morse code for yourself.
If you’re taking your first steps into Morse code, Google has created a game designed to teach the basics of Morse code in an hour. To access the mode, Google has put together an exhaustive guide to get you going. This isn’t Google’s first addition for accessibility either, as Android P’s Lookout app will help the visual impaired, while Google Maps is adding wheelchair accessible routes.