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Programmable Keyboards

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Onscreen Keyboards

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Case Study

Onscreen Keyboards

An onscreen keyboard displays a picture of a keyboard on the computer screen. It can be one solution for students able to control a mouse or pointing device, who need to see the keyboard directly on the screen. The student moves the pointer (with a mouse, touch screen, trackball, head pointing device, etc.) to the letter/command of choice and then clicks to select it.

Some programs arrange the keys in alphabetical order. Others allow the student to design her own layout or allow the student to type words or give multiple commands by activating a single "key". The onscreen keyboard can do everything the standard keyboard/mouse does. Onscreen keyboards can often be moved or re-sized. Frequently they offer other features such as speech output or word prediction.

Dwell selection - Suppose a student can control the mouse, but has trouble clicking it. Dwell selection allows him to leave the pointer on a key for a certain period of time, at which point it is automatically selected.


Here are some examples of onscreen keyboards. Some include speech output, which identifies the key when selected.

Discover: Screen (Madentec)
Discover: ScreenTThis program is fully customizable and can include keys, words, mouse commands and macros. It also includes speech output when a key is selected. (Mac and Win)



Download REACH demo

REACH Onscreen Keyboard (Applied Human Factors, Inc.)
The Reach onscreen keyboard comes with over 100 different layout options and an assortment of Assistive technology options including: single switch scanning, text-to-speech, and word prediction (plus dictionary). Its "Smart Key" technology is an add-on program that incorporates next-letter prediction into the onscreen keyboard function. (Windows Only)

For example, load the onscreen alphabet keyboard:

REACH Onscreen Keyboard

If you start to type "lucky", when the letter "L" is typed, not only does REACH start predicting the word you are typing (word prediction starts predicting words that begin with "L"), but Smart Keys starts predicting the next letter.

REACH Onscreen Keyboard



Click to enlarge SPT Keyboard 2002
enlarge image

SPT Keyboard 2002 (Simply Powerful)
This colorful onscreen keyboard can be customized for several students and works from any area of the screen. It can type symbols, special symbols and foreign keyboard layouts.


Download ScreenDoors 2000 demo under Products: Demos

ScreenDoors 2000 (Madentec)
ScreenDoors 2000 acts just like a real keyboard typing directly into any application. The student simply points to a key and clicks, which acts as a keystroke; or she can use the dwell feature. It includes a list of predicted words that anticipate what you are typing to help speed entry. This software was licensed by Microsoft and forms the basis for the Microsoft On-Screen Keyboard included in every copy of Microsoft Windows 2000. (Windows)

ScreenDoors 2000

WIVIK (Prentke-Romich)
WIWIK Onscreen keyboardFeatures of this Onscreen keyboard include the ability to create custom keyboards, macros, and successive quartering and enlargement of keyboards for persons with poor pointing skills or low vision. In addition, WiViK2 REP provides rate enhancement features such as word prediction and abbreviation expansion. Multiple dictionaries can be created and easily edited. This onscreen keyboard also comes with a scanning option. (Windows)

Magic CursorMagic CursorTM (Madentec)
Magic Cursor 2000 is onscreen mouse command software for people who can't perform all mouse functions. The student does need to be able to point and wait: Magic Cursor automatically takes care of the rest. Instead of clicking the mouse button, simply dwell over the item you want to select. After a preset amount of time, Magic Cursor will automatically perform the click for you.

Free Onscreen Keyboards
Keystrokes 2 (Shareware for Mac)
Milosoft's Virtual Keyboard (Free download - Windows)
NoKeys Virtual Keyboard (Shareware - Windows 95/98/NT)
Click-N-Type (Free - Windows 95 and higher) includes the Speed Keyboard option that changes the alphabetic key layout based on the frequency of letter usage.



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