The Ambiguous Keyboard A persistent challenge in the field of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) is the development of physically accessible, rate enhancing methods for AAC device and computer access. The ambiguous keyboard is one of the more interesting recent developments. Using a reduced set of keys coupled with predictive software, the ... Article
Article  |   April 01, 2004
The Ambiguous Keyboard
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • D. Jeffery Higginbotham
    Department of Communicative Disorders and Sciences, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY
  • Gregory W. Lesher
    Dyna VoxSystems, LLC, Pittsburgh, PA
Article Information
Augmentative & Alternative Communication / Articles
Article   |   April 01, 2004
The Ambiguous Keyboard
SIG 12 Perspectives on Augmentative and Alternative Communication, April 2004, Vol. 13, 12-16. doi:10.1044/aac13.1.12
SIG 12 Perspectives on Augmentative and Alternative Communication, April 2004, Vol. 13, 12-16. doi:10.1044/aac13.1.12
A persistent challenge in the field of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) is the development of physically accessible, rate enhancing methods for AAC device and computer access. The ambiguous keyboard is one of the more interesting recent developments. Using a reduced set of keys coupled with predictive software, the ambiguous keyboard is currently used for text input with cell phones and has been applied to AAC systems as a means for general-purpose language production.
For many individuals with physical disabilities, the operation of a traditional QWERTY keyboard can be a frustrating and time-consuming task. Even with keyboards that are adapted to accommodate the physical limitations of such individuals, reliable keyboard access is frequently time consuming, if not impossible (Lesher, Moulton, & Higginbotham, 1998). One solution to this access problem is to use larger keys, while reducing the total number of keys by associating multiple characters with each key. This solution produces the ambiguous keyboard. Commonly, reduced ambiguous keyboards use a telephone keypad configuration, with 9 keys employed to contain the alphabet and the remaining keys used for spacing and control functions. Figure 1 provides three examples of ambiguous keyboards: the first (Figure 1a), an ambiguous keyboard used in AAC, the second (Figure 1b), a keypad used for text input with cell phones, and the third (Figure 1c), an experimental keyboard optimized for efficiency.
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