Feature Writer Steven Famiglietti – The ZoomText Keyboard

A few years ago, AI Squared released the ZoomText keyboard.  This keyboard is quite innovative because it contains sixteen buttons running horizontally across the top of the keyboard, specifically used for performing ZoomText functions.  As most of you know, when you are using a computer, there is plenty to learn, combined with the added pile of commands if we need to run adaptive software.  This keyboard strives to reduce some of what we must keep in our heads, by enabling those buttons at the top to do our work for us.

The keyboard can either contain yellow keys with black letters, or black keys with yellow letters.  In both cases, the letters on the keys are presented in bold print, making it easier to locate them.  After you purchase one of these keyboards, you must install the software that comes with it.  This software enables the ZoomText buttons along the top of the keyboard to function.  If you don’t install the software, the buttons will not work.  You also need to be running ZoomText version 9.04 or later in order for the ZoomText keyboard and software to work correctly.

Here are a few ways in which the keyboard can make your computer experience easier.  Let’s say you prefer a black background with white letters and a large green mouse pointer.  Make the necessary changes for the mouse pointer and color enhancements and save these changes to ZoomText.  Then, every time you press the pointer enhancement button, your large green mouse pointer will be displayed.  If you need to change the pointer back to its original appearance, hit the pointer enhancement on the keyboard a second time and it will revert back to the default windows setting.  The same goes for any enhancement you make including color, pointer, focus, and so on.  If the magnification is too small, simply hit the plus button at the top of the keyboard and the magnification will go up one level.

The keyboard comes with a large print book, which explains in detail each key and its function.  If I were designing the next keyboard for sale, I would make the symbols above each ZoomText key larger and bolder for those individuals with low vision.  In their current state, I feel that they are too small to comfortably read.  I also think that some of the other software companies should make similar keyboards for screen reader users.  As screen readers continue to advance, the amount of keystrokes necessary to operate them continues to increase.  It would be nice to have a simple one touch way to make the most common tasks happen quickly.

If you would like more information about the Zoomtext keyboard, visit www.aisquared.com

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