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You are in: Home > Articles > The Use of Overlay/Concept Keyboards

The Use of Overlay/Concept Keyboards


Overlay keyboards can be used as an additional or alternative computer input device. These boards can be connected to a computer system to provide an alternative or additional input. They have a flat surface and are commonly used with a prepared paper or plastic overlay which indicates what will be input when the board is pressed. The boards have a grid of sensitive areas which function as individual keys or can be combined to provide larger keys.

IntelliKeys USBOverlay Maker 3

Boards such as Intellikeys USB, will provide a range of alternative keyboard layouts as soon as they are connected to any suitable computer. The boards can be used with an Overlay Maker 3, an authoring program which allows new overlays and associated messages to be created. Ready made overlays are available for some commonly used programs.

Overlay boards can be used in different ways:

• They can be programmed to offer a larger key area than the standard keyboard to help users with motor disabilities.
• They can be used to provide a simple keyboard layout.
• They can have tactile or high contrast overlays to help users with visual impairments.
• Each area of the board can be programmed to give a variety of inputs which can include letters, whole words, phrases or graphics. For example, a user with learning difficulties could have an overlay of pictures which could each input some text to help them write a story.
• To send commands to the computer to control the mouse.
• They can act as either one or two switches.

Clicker 6On-screen keyboards, such as Clicker, offer similar support to overlay keyboards but do have the drawback of occupying part of the screen while being used.



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