While the standard keyboard may not be able to physically change to predict the needs of a user with dyslexia, there are programs that can help the user read the keyboard in a way that works for them. A condition that occurs when the brain does not properly recognize and process certain symbols, dyslexia makes it difficult to spell words according to letters alone, thus making the use of a keyboard tricky.
Since a keyboard is in fact a palette of symbols, researchers have had to develop new ways to ensure accuracy. For example, one keyboard (due out this year) uses a combination of red, green and blue lights to backlight the keys. With over 1.6 million color combinations, the keyboard has a dial that allows the user to adjust the brightness and intensity, while at the same time allowing the user to mix the colors to taste.
Another keyboard, a favorite among the INDATA team, is called the BigKeys Keyboard. While the board itself is the same size as a standard keyboard, the keys are large, rugged and easily identifiable. Many options are available for this type of keyboard including, lower or upper case letters, black lettering on white keys or black lettering on brightly colored keys.
However, before using the keyboard, it is necessary to have a firm grasp on the basics of the layout and positioning of the letters. There are many programs available to help teach children and adults alike how to use a keyboard and Keyboard Classroom is just one of the many available. Developed by Dr. Ian Spence, headmaster of Ben Bronz academy in West Hartford, Connecticut, the program specifically targets students between the ages of eight and 18 with learning disabilities, such as dyslexia. Because the program allows users to acquire the skill of typing at their own pace, other academic areas, such as testing, note taking and information, have increased significantly.
Each of these tools, and these are only just a few, allow a user to learn how to go about life with dyslexia and gain a better understanding of what works and what does not. The process of finding what works is trial and error, however, with a little patience (and maybe a little help from resources like INDATA and the Dyslexia Institute of Indiana) you can find the best typing strategy.