What is a virtual keyboard?

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A virtual keyboard is software that is used to emulate a standard keyboard. A picture of a keyboard is displayed on a computer screen and the user points and clicks on the pictures of keys to enter text. Switches activated in a wide variety of ways make use of the most appropriate muscles for the individual user. Virtual keyboards allow computer use by people with significant mobility impairments. Some virtual keyboards incorporate word prediction to increase entry speed.

[A computer screen with a virtual keyboard] Select the image to the right to view a captioned video clip, in Real Player format, about using a virtual keyboard.

For more information about computer-based accommodations for individuals with mobility impairments, consult the videotaped presentation and publication Working Together: Computers and People with Mobility Impairments.

Last update or review: January 24, 2013