Morse code for access: what do we know?

Morse code has been used in assistive technology since at least the 1970’s to support typing using one or two switches. This post summarizes what we know about typing performance for Morse code users with physical disabilities, and how it compares to other switch-based text entry methods.

The Morse code keyboard for the Gboard app, showing dot and dash keys.
Morse code can be an effective way to type using only one or two switches. It’s been around for decades as an assistive technology (AT) that can be used by people with high-level spinal cord injuries (often with a sip/puff switch), severe cerebral palsy, or other conditions that cause significant physical impairments.

This post was inspired by a question sent to the RESNA AT-FORUM listserv by Craig Wadsworth of the Illinois AT Program and Debra and Thomas King, long-time advocates of Morse code. They are trying to gather info from people who are using Morse or have helped someone use it, in order to build a firmer knowledge base about using Morse effectively.

Their question got me thinking about what we really know about the viability of Morse relative to other switch-based methods such as switch scanning.

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Visualizing text entry data: which design do you prefer?

We’re working on some new ways to visualize the text entry data within AT-node, and we need your feedback! Take a look at some designs and let us know what you think.

Visualizing text entry data: your feedback needed
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AT-node: explore the data on typing with assistive technology

How fast can people with physical disabilities type when using different assistive technologies? Find out with our free AT-node for access website. Use the evidence to enhance your understanding.

I’ve mentioned our free AT-node website in other posts (like this one with a neat infographic), without really demonstrating what it is, so in this post, I want to give you a quick introduction to using the AT-node website.
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Better typing with keyboard assistive technology

Here’s another great example of how a simple change to a user’s computer setup can make a big difference, in this case using keyboard assistive technology. Read on for a summary of this 2018 case study from the University of Bordeaux.

Better typing with keyboard assistive technology. Photo on the left shows original keyboard, with user typing with left hand. Hand is partially curled up, with index and middle fingers extended. Photo on the right shows keyboard with assistive technology to enhance typing: keyguard, angled stand, and forearm rest.
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Typing with a tongue computer interface

It’s possible to type with your tongue using tiny sensors worn in the mouth. This post presents text entry rate results from a recent study, including two people with cervical spinal cord injuries.

Image shows the 18 sensors embedded into the device, which is worn like an orthodontic retainer. Also shows how letters are assigned to each sensor to allow for typing with the tongue.
For about 30 years, researchers have experimented with different ways of typing with your tongue. The Tongue Touch Keypad from the 1990’s used a tiny keyboard embedded in an orthodontic-style retainer. A newer approach continues to use the orthodontic-style retainer, but now embeds inductive sensors that are activated by moving a small magnet attached to the tongue. How well can you type with this sort of tongue computer interface? Read on for results from a recent study.

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KPR highlights for 2018

2018 was an unusual, fun, and interesting year for Koester Performance Research. Here are some highlights of KPR’s work in the past year.

KPR wishes you a Happy New Year!

Wishing you all a Happy New Year! In the spirit of a new year’s energy, I took a look at KPR’s activities in the past year. 2018 was unusual, in that we’ve intentionally not been engaged in a large funded project, in order to leave some space and see what might take shape. One overarching goal this year was to share more of what we’ve learned and developed with the wider world. To that end, we revamped the KPR website, incorporated a blog, and set up new systems for communicating with people who are interested in what we’re doing. It’s still a work in progress, but has been enjoyable and seems useful so far. We also continued research, development, and service work within assistive technology. Read on for a few specific highlights.

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KPR presenting at RESNA 2018 Conference

Join KPR along with practitioners and researchers from the assistive technology community at the RESNA 2018 conference. We’ll present on our AT-node research database along with tips on conducting assistive technology research.

As always, I’m looking forward to the RESNA annual conference, this year to be held in Washington, DC from July 11-15. I’ll be giving 3 presentations, along with Sajay Arthanat. Continue reading “KPR presenting at RESNA 2018 Conference”

Evidence on computer text entry by people with disabilities

Ever wonder how quickly people can type with different accessibility interfaces? Is it useful to know the typing speed for the “average” user with cerebral palsy on an assistive keyboard?

Sajay Arthanat and I have been working together to organize the available research evidence on text entry rates (typing speeds) for people with disabilities. This has been a fun project that’s allowed us to revisit the literature published since 1986. Continue reading “Evidence on computer text entry by people with disabilities”