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Typing faster with assistive technology

Written by Solène, on 16 October 2021.
Tags: #accessibility #a11y

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Introduction §

This article is being written only using my left hand with the help of ibus-typing-booster program.

ibus-typing-booster project

The purpose of this tool is to assist the user by proposing words while typing, a bit like smartphones do. It can be trained with a dictionary, a text file but also learn from user inputs over time.

A package for OpenBSD is on the tracks.

Installation §

This program requires ibus to work, on Gnome it is already enabled but in other environments some configuration are required. Because this may be subject to change over time and duplicating information is bad, I'll give the links for configuring ibus-typing-booster.

How to enable ibus-typing-booster

How to use §

Once you have setup ibus and ibus-typing-booster you should be able to switch from normal input to assisted input using "super"+space.

When you type with ibus-typing-booster enabled, with default settings, the input should be underlined to show a suggestion can be triggered using TAB key. Then, from a popup window you can pick a word by using TAB to cycle between the suggestions and pressing space to validate, or use the F key matching your choice number (F1 for first, F2 for second etc...) and that's all.

Configuration §

There are many ways to configure it, suggestions can be done inline while typing which I think is more helpful when you type slowly and you want a quick boost when the suggestion is correct. The suggestions popup can be vertical or horizontal, I personally prefer horizontal which is not the default. Colors and key bindings can changed.

Performance §

While I type very fast when I have both my hands, using one hand requires me to look the keyboard and make a lot of moves with my hand. This work fine and I can type reasonably fast but this is extremely exhausting and painful for my hand. With ibus-typing-booster I can type full sentences with less efforts but a bit slower. However this is a lot more comfortable than typing everything using my hand.

Conclusion §

This is an assistive technology easy to setup and that can be a life changer for disabled users who can make use of it.

This is not the first time I'm temporarily disabled in regards to using a keyboard, I previously tried a mirrored keyboard layout reverting keys when pressing caps lock, and also Dasher which allow to make words from simple movements such as moving mouse cursor. I find this ibus plugin to be easier to integrate for the brain because I just type with my keyboard in the programs, with Dasher I need to cut and paste content, and with mirrored layout I need to focus on the layout change.

I am very happy of it.