On Screen Keyboards

Millions of disabled individuals use on-screen keyboards every day. An on-screen keyboard is an application that resides on top of other windows, which allows keyboard input to be passed directly from the on-screen keyboard application to the window below. There are many different designs of on-screen keyboards, each having their own specific features and functionality.

Microsoft Windows Onscreen Keyboard

On-Screen Keyboard is an accessibility utility that displays a virtual keyboard on the computer screen, that allows people with physical impairments to type data by using a pointing device or joystick. On-Screen Keyboard can also be used as a typing tutor.

On Screen Keyboards - Global Assistive Technology Wiki


  • Audible click on key press
  • Scanning mode
  • Hover mode (dwell clicking)
  • Clicking mode - typing with the cursor
  • Changing key font and size

You can't resize the keyboard

Alternative Onscreen Keyboards

Hot Virtual Keyboard speeds up screen typing by replacing Windows built-in On-Screen Keyboard. Use a mouse, headmouse or eyemouse for typing with Hot Virtual Keyboard.
Hot Virtual Keyboard enables users to type faster with less errors and more convenience.
Improvements in the latest release include the support of up to 60 languages, the ability to download auto-complete dictionaries from within the program, the ability to change keyboard size in an instant, the ability to automatically fit the keyboard vertically or horizontally onto the screen. In addition, extra configuration settings are added to make the on-screen keyboard even more customizable.

Hot Virtual Keyboard

Hot Virtual Keyboard have many features for users with physical disabilities:
  • Fully customizable look and behavior. There are more than 60 different virtual on-screen keyboards supplied with Hot Virtual Keyboard.
  • Programmable buttons for performing routine operations such as copying and pasting text.
  • Keys to launch applications, open Web pages or run macros with a single tap.
  • Word auto-complete to make typing faster and more accurate than ever.
  • Support of multiple languages and keyboard layouts.
  • Special “typing aid” functions.
More about Hot Virtual Keyboard . . .

WiViK on-screen keyboard. Also includes a built in word prediction program. The keyboards can apparently contain any keys you want, can be moved anywhere on the screen and can be any size.

On Screen Keyboards - Global Assistive Technology Wiki

WiViK is suitable for people of all ages who are unable to use a physical keyboard, such as those with spinal cord injuries, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), muscular dystrophy, and cerebral palsy. Any pointing device or one through six discrete switches may be used as input. Select a key and WiViK sends it to a word processor, e-mail message, web page or other text-based application you may be using. Keyboards can contain any keys you want, can be moved anywhere on the screen and can be any size. It comes with WordQ, which uses advanced word prediction to suggest appropriate words to make typing with WiViK faster and to help with spelling.

Grid 2
and GridKeys

Grid 2
has a mode providing on-screen keyboards for people who are unable to operate the computer using the regular keyboard. Mouse, mouse emulation or switch access can be used to access any computer program including the internet. Sample grids are provided for common functions for applications such as word processing, internet explorer, mouse control, calculator, media player and also sample chat displays for communication are included. The internet explorer display includes command buttons such as 'scan links' and 'scan frames'. Any displays can be customised for individual requirements.

Image of Grid2 keyboard

Info and images: Zygo Australia

Using Grid 2 onscreen keyboard:

Grid Keys Onscreen keyboard
Grid Keys is a computer control program that allows users of switches and pointing devices to use standard Windows programs without either the keyboard or mouse.

Grid Keys is closely related to Grid 2. If you only need Computer Control, then Grid Keys is sufficient. All thefeatures of Grid Keys are available in the Grid 2 plus many more: The Grid 2 also includes voice-output communication, environment control, eye gaze support and many other features.
Screenshot of Gridkeys being used with MS Word

Image of Gridkeys keyboard

More information about Gridkeys' capabilities . . .

Supplier: Sensory Software

Click 'N' Type (Free)

Click 'N' Type
FREE full featured on-screen virtual keyboard for anyone with a disability that prevents him or her from typing on a physical computer keyboard. - Word prediction and completion - Fully configurable including macros. - AutoClick and Scanning Modes. - Many language/keyboard packs available. Keyboard Designer and many user designed layouts included - Audible and visible feedback options, including Spoken Keys

Screenshot of click n type keyboard

Designed for anyone who needs help using a physical keyboard with special consideration for the severely handicapped. - Works with all pointing devices including head mouse and virtual mouse programs like Point-N-Click. - Programs to administer user access available. - Requires Windows 98/Me/NT/2000/XP/Vista. - Portable version for USB Flash Drives.

More information about Click 'N' Type . . .

Clicker 5

Clicker is a writing support and multimedia tool for children of all abilities. At the top of the screen is a word processor called ‘Clicker Writer’. At the bottom of the screen is the ‘Clicker Grid’. This has ‘cells’ containing letters, words or phrases that you can click on, to send them into Clicker Writer – so children can write sentences without actually writing or using the keyboard.
Clicker 5 comes with realistic British speech, so you can hear the words before you write. Simply click on any word with the right-hand mouse button (or Control-click on it if you’re using a Mac). Clicker Writer can also speak letters, words or sentences to you as you write.

Clicker 5 also comes with highly detailed pictures to illustrate common words, and you can use your own pictures too. You can have pictures in the Clicker Grid and click on them to send them into Clicker Writer, so you can write with pictures as well as words! Pictures can appear instantly in cells when you type into them. Pictures can also appear instantly as you type into Clicker Writer.
More about Clicker 5 . . .

Screenshot of Clicker 5

Clicker 5 screenshot

Clicker Writer

More videos on the YouTube Cricksoft channel . . .

Clicker 5 - Creating Grids

Penfriend XL

On screen keyboard (OSK)

Screenshot of Penfriend XL on screen keyboard

More information about Penfriend XL . . .
OSK with word prediction

Screenshot of Penfriend XL OSK and word prediction panel

Apple Specific

KeyStrokes - for Apple Mac.

KeyStrokes is a fully-functional advanced virtual on-screen keyboard that allows you to type with a mouse, trackball, head pointer or other mouse emulator to type characters into any standard Macintosh application.

Screenshot of keystrokes in action

KeyStrokes provides advanced multilingual word prediction. Thanks to its revolutionary PolyPredix™ word prediction engine it can do word completion, next word prediction and even multi-word prediction in any Roman language as well as many other languages. The PolyPredix™ prediction engine offers many unique, time and effort saving features allowing significantly easier and faster typing. PolyPredix™ can reduce typing efforts by 50 to 70%. More information . . .

Envoy for Mac OS X
Envoy is the latest in access software for the Mac OS X. It is keyboard and mouse replacement software designed to work with the IntelliSwitch wireless switch interface. Envoy is designed for individuals with physical disabilities, and those who are not able to access the Macintosh with the tradition keyboard or mouse.

How does it work?

Pointing Setups (On-Screen Keyboards or OSK): Envoy will allow users of alternative pointing devices, such as the Tracker from Madentec, access to an on-screen keyboard. All keyboard functions can be controlled from these “virtual” keyboards, as well as many scripted computer functions, like launching an application.

Scanning Setups (Automatic Scanning): Envoy also gives one switch automatic scanning and two switch step scanning access to the computer through scanning on-screen Setups. Activation of the switch will bring up a scan array and advance the “scan hilite” to move from one item to the next. Each switch activation selects the hilited item. In this manner, all keyboard and mouse functions can be accessed through the use of a single switch.

Screenshot of Envoy

More about Envoy . . .

Additional resource

KeyVit on-screen keyboard

On Screen  Keyboards - Global Assistive Technology Wiki

Build a Board. IMG's latest release of My-T-Soft, My-T-Pen, and My-T-Touch allows you to use custom keyboard layouts created with IMG's Build-A-Board.

Build-A-Board Welcome

My-T-Soft. www.imgpresents.com/mytsoft/mytsoft.htm

My-T-Soft US Standard 101 Keyboard Layout with Edit Panel


Uses a concept found in fighter planes, helicopters, tanks, and automobiles. That concept is called "Heads Up Display" technology and its principal objective is to keep the users focus and concentration centered in one place. My-T-Pen uses that concept to reduce the visual re-focusing and re-positioning, caused by the heads up and down motion of going from screen to keyboard to screen, and the resulting confusion it causes. www.my-t-soft.com/mytpen/mtp.htm

My-T-Pen US Standard 104 Keyboard Layout with Edit, Numeric & Control Panel Opened in size 8

Changing from Qwerty to Dvorak

The Dvorak keyboard layout, designed for speed and efficiency by Dr. August Dvorak in the 1930s, can increase typing speed and decrease finger fatigue. It places all the vowels in the left hand of the home row and the most commonly used consonants in the right hand of the home row.

Because the frequently-used letters are right there underneath your fingertips and the next most common are directly above, typing involves much less reaching. In this sample paragraph, 70% of the letters are on the home row in Dvorak, with 15% top and 15% bottom. In QWERTY 30% are on the home row. Beware, it takes a little getting used to, especially if you're transitioning from a standard QWERTY.


(Source: http://www.wikihow.com/Switch-to-a-Dvorak-Keyboard-Layout ).

Linux OSK

OnBoard from Ubuntu. As basic OSK with limited switch input capabilities. More information...

OnBoard OSK

GOK (GNOME on screen keyboard). Advanced features including UI grab and switch capabilities. More information...


MountFocus - Customisable onscreen keyboards

Think how much time that you could save by having the keys that you need right where you need them. You choose the layout, you choose the colors, you choose the size, you name it, you decide!

Copying keys makes creating keyboards even faster! The designer has a key pool of commonly used keys, which you can add to, and copy frequently used keys to make custom onscreen keyboards very quickly. Create your own keypools if you want!

Your custom keyboard can be controlled with mouse clicks or if you have a touch-screen, just by pressing the keys on the screen.

More information . . .


Image of MountFocus

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