Personalising Penfriend XL

Penfriend XL has a lot of options, not all of which will be useful to any one person. For example the on-screen keyboard is quite a specific item, and having it speak all the predictions every time they change would drive some people crazy.

Word prediction is theoretically useful only for people who can read all of the suggestions faster than they can type another letter. Their slowness may be due to physical problems or doubt, so a fair number of people come into this definition.

If you are physically disabled but completely confident of what you wish to write;

If the user is not confident of their writing, due to a learning difficulty such as dyslexia or a more general problem, you should:

If your literacy skills are limited (or you are reading this on behalf of such a person!):

If you are a teacher supervising work by young children:

If you have a speaking word processor:

If you don't have a speaking word processor, you might want to switch on the options described above, and perhaps also the Screen Reader.

People with Cerebral Palsy or Friedrich's Ataxia may like the on-screen keyboard, especially if they prefer the mouse to the real keyboard. It can be re-sized to suit almost any degree of manual dexterity. The font used in it is the same as the prediction window font so long as there is room for it. If the keyboard window is too small, the Windows Icon font is used. The colours cannot currently be changed. For people who do use the real keyboard, it is a waste of space. You may also like to use Clicker with Penfriend XL which can be controlled by switches.

If your physical disability makes you press keys inadvertently, you can switch on an Acceptance Delay (FilterKeys) from the Accessibility part of the Windows control panel.

The prediction window can have its colours changed to make reading more comfortable. Some dyslexic and other people have scotopic sensitivity which is relieved by careful choice of the colour scheme. If you wish more precise control of the colours, set your monitor to 16 or 24 bit colour by going to your Windows Control Panel for the Display.

The font used in the prediction window can be adjusted too. Many people prefer bold sans-serif fonts like Arial Bold. Choosing a bold font distinguishes the predictions from the function key labels, which will not be in bold. Do not be afraid to use large sizes if you wish, for example 100pt. This may suit people with visual impairments. You may wish to set your word processor to a similarly large font either by zooming in or simply changing the font size. If you cannot read menus and icon captions on any programs, you may wish to change your monitor to a lower pixel resolution such as 640x480 using the Display section of your Windows Control Panel.

If you are trying to encourage a reluctant writer to put something down 'on paper', you may wish to: