SuperKeys Review

Gayl Bowser

Gayl Bowser was the Coordinator of the Oregon Technology Access Program (OTAP) for almost 20 years and is now an independent consultant.

In a world filled with touch screens, some of us are at a disadvantage. Don’t get me wrong. I love my iPad and my phone. I love how portable they are and how quickly they can do things. With a cellular connection, I don't have to wonder about anything for very long these days. I just sign on and look it up. For a curious person like me, that is pure bliss.

But some days the touch screen is also pure frustration. While I don’t have a physical disability, I am a shaky person. I have what is called an essential tremor. If I am well rested and peaceful, you might not notice it at all. But if I am tired or nervous or upset about something, I may shake so much that I have to use two hands to get a cup of tea to my mouth. On those days, I want to throw touch-screen devices across the room. My shaky fingers make so many mistakes that I correct more letters than I type successfully. I miss the letters and type different ones. I double-tap when I don’t mean to, I single-tap when I mean to double tap. I miss the keyboard entirely and go to an app I don't want to be in.

Just to show you the difficulty, I turned off all the automatic features on my iPad and typed the sentences (see screenshot) with my own, shaky fingers (I would never do this in real life). You can imagine how much worse this would be on a smaller iPhone screen.

Generally, when my writing starts to look like this, I move to my computer so that I can stabilize my hands. In some cases, I can use voice recognition, but usually, that’s only when I’m alone and not bothering anyone.

I love my SuperKeys! SuperKeys’ very large five button target areas, coupled with a larger word prediction bar, has allowed me to use my tablet successfully on days when I can't carry my laptop, can't use voice recognition and can't type more than four letters without making a mistake (even corrections on a touch screen are difficult if you have a tremor). I have been building a library of shortcuts that I can access from the SuperKeys keyboard, and that is saving me a lot of time too.

I suspect that the programmers were not thinking of people like me when they developed SuperKeys. I’ll bet they were thinking of folks with diagnosed physical disabilities. But as I age and my finger dexterity ages with me, I am very glad that Crick’s new SuperKeys keyboard is along for the ride.