We bought this high contrast keyboard for a senior citizen with low vision caused by Macular Degeneration. It’s been a real success and I would recommend this high visibility keyboard for use by anyone who has difficulty seeing a regular keyboard, but who doesn’t want to switch to audio input and is looking for an effective keyboard for impaired vision.
When an older relative stopped emailing and interacting with her grandchildren and friends through Facebook we didn’t think too much of it at first. She was still writing letters and telephoning people so it didn’t seem to be a big deal. Then when a grandchild was heading off for an internship abroad and staying in touch online was the only realistic approach she explained that it wasn’t that she “couldn’t be bothered” with the computer as she’d previously insisted, the real problem was simply that she couldn’t see well enough to enjoy emailing, Facebooking and Skyping.
Macular Degeneration was taking its toll. I have an incurable degenerative eye condition myself, so in my “worst case scenario” days I’d looked at accessibility, and picked up leaflets from the hospital on how to stay online with low vision.
I did some research and the black and yellow keyboards were by far the favorite for being able to see the keys, and having larger, thicker fonts for the keys also made a difference, so I ruled out the black and white keys (the white on black that most modern keyboards have is just useless for people with low vision, particularly as the letters often wear off with use).
The next decision was keyboard layout. Many of the keyboards available aim to make the most of the space available by organizing the keys in an easy to see format, but the problem is that if you’re used to a standard keyboard, then you’re having to learn again where the keys are – as if you don’t have enough problems with impaired vision already to start having to learn to type all over again. Whilst I wasn’t buying for a touch typist, I was choosing a keyboard for a regular person who typed with four fingers and is used to a standard QWERTY layout. The Keys U See keyboard has the best layout balance between being as much like a standard keyboard as possible without wasting any space.
Once the keyboard arrived we also switched the display settings on her computer, increasing the contrast and font size, so she once again felt confident using the computer, and it wasn’t something she dreaded tackling, so for us, this keyboard was a real bargain.
The science bit …