T he vast selection of custom keyboards on the market oday allows nearly everyone
to enter data and navigate computer
applications, regardless of physical
or cognitive disabilities. There are
keyboards specially designed for
young students, struggling learners,
those with partial or no vision, and
people with limited range of motion
or lack of fine-motor skills.
To aid visual impairment, some
units have keys with large letters on
them as well as colored or extra-large keys. The BigKeys LX, for example, comes with keys that are one-inch square, a simplified QWERTY
or ABC format, colored or white
keys, and large black or white lettering to clearly mark each key.
Many options also exist for
people with limited movement. The
FrogPad is a portable, one-handed
keyboard with a custom layout that
provides all the functionality of a
standard keyboard in half the space.
The Magic Wand keyboard is a miniature QWERTY that doesn’t require
reach, strength, or dexterity. Because
the wand is wired to the unit, it
requires just a touch to select a character. Zero-force keys placed closely
together require only the slightest
head or hand movement to trigger.
AbleNet’s USB Mini is one example
of a frequency-of-use keyboard that
combines key and mouse functions
at the center of the layout. Users
toggle from mouse to keyboard with
a keystroke combination.
Many manufacturers offer layouts
other than the standard QWERTY,
and some keyboards are even pro-
grammable. Teachers can slide
overlays onto the typing surface of
Intelli Tool’s IntelliKeys to create
keyboards for different students and
curriculum areas. The design of the
overlays provides large, spaced keys
in high-contrast colors to help stu-
dents locate letters, numbers, words,
and directional arrows.
40 Learning & Leading with Technology | February 2010
Blue Orb, Inc.
In Touch Systems