Optimizing Click N Type onscreen keyboard for scan mode

Lately, my good hand has been hurting badly and left me at a loss for what to do when I can’t use my voice. Though technically I can press a switch with my left fist until I get too spastic, I can’t afford an input device, especially one that I don’t use that often. Luckily, I remembered that the Click N Type on-screen keyboard lets you press the entire physical keyboard in the absence of switches or mouse buttons. Almost every key counts for left click in scanning mode, and the number pad if you have one counts for right-click. A right-click cancels the group you’re scanning, and a double right-click is Backspace. There is downloadable word completion. The keyboard is also portable, which is a huge plus.

However, if you’re going to use Click N Type in scanning mode, you’re probably going to want to do some tweaks. (These tweaks, unless you also have cursor scanning software, have to be done by voice, physical keyboard, or scanning the Windows on-screen keyboard for navigation.) The major tweak, if you want to use the keyboard on a regular basis unassisted, is to go to Options — Program preferences and check the option to load an application on startup. It doesn’t matter what you pick, though it would make sense to choose something useful like a browser or word processor. (If you don’t already have Firefox, you’ll want it for the typeaheadfind.linksonly setting and/or the autoscrolling bookmarklet.) It’s better to do this before you enable scan mode. Regardless, you need to do this because it’s the only way the keyboard will start itself in scan mode in subsequent sessions.

The next most important tweak is to add a Windows key to whatever keyboard layout you are using. This requires opening the layout through the Keyboard Designer, the instructions for which are on the website. A Windows key is necessary if you want to open more programs besides the one you told the keyboard to open when it started. The Windows keys have been made sticky, so that you will have to scan it twice in a row. You may also want to have a menu key, so as to be able to get context menus for things you highlight with the arrow keys. (NOTE: You can also create AHK shortcuts that will run programs from any window, for example ::fx::Run, firefox.exe.) You might also want to improve on the key arrangement so that more common letters are scanned first (I didn’t care for the default scanning layout), and/or shrink the keyboard.

The next tweak was just my preference — after installing the word completion list, I opened the file and erased all the words, replacing them with 978 most common words in English. (On the wordlist webpage, press F7 to turn on caret browsing, then Control A, then Control C.) Paste the words into your word processor first — you will need to select all again and set to lowercase. (You might also want to delete the opening paragraph.) Then copy and paste everything into the prediction file and save it. I also added phrases and word pairs that I used fairly often. Especially with the option to learn common words enabled, using a core word list increased my chances of finding the right word quickly. Another useful tool is shorthand, whether through your word processor or a script. Along with a good word list and layout, this will speed writing.

NOTE: Using this keyboard in sites or programs that aren’t keyboard friendly is very difficult. For that you need the Windows on-screen keyboard in conjunction with Mouse Grid. I will post instructions next.

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