My writing method
I propose you to download one of the following panels, which you put in :
Library / Application Support / Assitiveware Support / SwitchXS Scan Panels
Either by “drag and drop” or “copy and paste”.
With a scan panel, keys are typically arranged in blocks organized in rows. The time it takes to reach a key depends on its position within the block, the position of the block within the row, and finally the row order. Having this in mind, I order my scan panel (writing2) so as to have the most frequently used keys quickly appear on it. Of course, if you prefer simplicity to efficiency you can simply order the keys alphabetically (writing1). In English, frequency order for letters, is :
e, t, a, i, n, o, s, h, r, d, l, u, c, m, f, w, y, g, p, b, v, k, q, j, x, z
for simplicity, I have slightly changed this order.
Writing1 has its letters in alphabetical order, but writing2 has them in the most frequently used letters’ order.
Let us examine writing2 panel :
These panels have dark blue keys that do nothing. They are at every first position : first line, first column and first key of each block. This is to make it easier and have faster scanning, for each first is difficult to reach. In SwitchXS preferences, you can choose to have a little latent period at each first, but it is not enough for me.
-green keys, when you type them, show exactly what is written on the key
-yellow keys give what is written on the key plus a space, thus they are systematically used at every last letter of a word, and used to launch abbreviations.
-purple keys are made this way : “backspace + X + space” where “X” is what is written on the key. They are, for example, to put an “s” or “ed” at the end of a verb. Let us give the following example : if I want to write “followed “, as I only have “follow” in my abbreviations, I type the green key “f” and the yellow key “ll”, that gives me “follow “ and a space, and then I add the purple key “ed”, which gives me “followed “ and a space, so in order to write “followed “ and a space, I need three keys instead of nine.
-pink keys are made this way : “backspace + backspace + X + space” where “X” is what is written on the key, so they rub the last letter before adding the letters on the key. For example if I want to write “heavily “, “heavier “ or heaviest “, I begin by writing “heavy “, which I have in my abbreviations (green “h” and yellow “v”), and then I add the pink “ily”, “ier” or “iest”.
-clear blue keys are for features that repeat until you stop it by a switch. They are useful to move around in a text. But to have the feature repeated, you must turn on “key repeat : auto-repeat key, text and macro buttons” in the keyboard section of the SwitchXS preferences.
-red keys are all macro buttons, essentially keyboard shortcuts.
-brown keys are word prediction suggestions.
Panel line per line :
-line nought is dark blue and does nothing
-first line is all the alphabetical letters
-second line, first block, going from left to right : "er" plus a space, "re" plus a space, backspace, forward delete and the return key. Second block : "of", "to", "oo", "not" and "on", all with a space at the end. Third block : "au", "ai", "ss", "tt" and "-". Fourth and fifth block are the numbers from "0" to "9", and the "@" sign for e-mail addresses.
-third line is a series of letter combinations often used.
-fourth line is all alphabetical letters, each one being followed by a space.
-fifth line, first block, going from left to right : “option backspace”, to erase a hole word, “backspace + backspace” to erase the last two letters, “backspace + backspace + backspace” to erase the last three letters, “backspace” until you stop it by a switch, and “forward delete” until you stop by a switch. Second and third block : “return” until you stop it by a switch, and a series of double letters that come out frequently. Forth and fifth block are the numbers from "0" to "9", and the "/", each one being followed by a space.
-sixth line, apart from the space at the first block, is a series of letter combinations that are often used, alone or at the end of words, they are all ended by a space.
-seventh line, first block, is a series of endings of verbs, they are all ended by a space. Second block is also endings, but starting by an apostrophe (‘), to contract words. Again, they are all ended by a space. Third and forth block are letters to be put at the end of words, mostly to double the last letter before ending it, again they all have a space at the end. Fifth block is also endings, but that erase the last letter of the word before putting the ending, and they are all ended by a space. Purple keys begin by "backspace", and pink keys begin by "backspace + backspace".
-eighth line is 25 word prediction suggestions, and the alarm key.
-ninth line, first block, from left to right : a key that writes “no” plus a space, comma, full stop, semi-colon and colon, the last four ones have a space at the end. Second block : “backspace + , + space”, “backspace + . + space”, “? + space”, “! + space”, and “backspace + -“. Third block : purple letters like the ones of the seventh line. Forth block : purple “m”, purple “n”, apostrophe, "apostrophe + space", “backspace + ’ + space”. Fifth block : “(“, “) + space“, “backspace + ) + space”, quotation mark, "quotation mark + space", “backspace + “ + space".
-tenth line is all the capital letters.
-eleventh line, first block is the key to go to the panel "Keyboard and Mouse bis", but you can change panel with LayoutKitchen
then you have arrows in the four directions, to move around in a text. Second block : the menu key, to scan the menu, and four keys to select text in the four directions. Third block : “backspace + backspace + space” to erase the last letter of a word that ends with a space, “Option left-arrow” to go backwards in a text, jumping from word to word, “Option right-arrow” to go forward in a text, jumping word after word, “Option up-arrow” to go upwards in a text, jumping from paragraph to paragraph, and “Option down-arrow” to go downwards in a text, paragraph after paragraph. Forth block : a space that stops an abbreviation to expand (to make it work, you need a software such as QuicKeys that clicks at a place of your screen you have chosen before, and that makes multiple steps), “Command left arrow” to go to the beginning of the line on which you are, “Command right arrow” to go to the end of the line, “Command up arrow” to go to the beginning of the text, “Command down arrow” to go to the end of the text. Fifth block : Toggle automation (for abbreviations), “backspace + backspace + , + space”, “backspace + backspace + . + space”, “$”, “£”, “€”.
-twelfth line is a series of keyboard shortcut keys useful in most word-processing packages.
-thirteenth and last line, first block : “tab” key until you stop it by a switch, “tab + tab”, “shift tab”, “Command tab” to go to the precedent application, “Command <” to go to the precedent window, in the same application. Second block : “page up” until you stop it by a switch, “page down” until you stop it by a switch, “escape” key, “click” key, “turn the cursor around”. Third block : “Control F3” to select the Finder icon in the dock, then with right or left arrow, you can travel along the dock and open any application, “+” key and a space, full stop (for e-mail addresses and URL), “open Word” application, “open Excel” application. Fourth block are keys to open applications : Mail, Text Edit, iChat, SwitchXS and KeyStrokes. Fifth block are the four modifier keys, the Toggle learning key for word prediction, and the key that changes the place of the panel on the screen.
Note : with that writing keyboard and just one key abbreviations, you can enormously accelerate writing.