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Symbol Keyboard for Nonverbal Users Launched by SwiftKey

Daily Mail
SwiftKey is one of the most popular third party keyboard apps on the market. The action of sweeping your thumb from letter to letter and allowing the keyboard to figure out what you're trying to say carries a great deal of appeal when you stack it against the standard form of arthritic tapping. In particular, many dyslexic people find it hugely helpful, since it bypasses the need for completely accurate spelling.

Following that logic further still, the developers of the app have introduced a new, symbol-based keyboard which is designed for non-verbal users. Nonverbal users could be on the autistic spectrum, or have another similar learning disability which makes it difficult to associate images with the corresponding words. This keyboard uses symbols to help the user figure out what they're trying to communicate. The idea came from several members of staff with autistic people in their families.

All the symbols are hand drawn, and organised by category, but there's also a 'smart suggestion' option which figures out which symbols might relate to the previous input. The app also knows what time of day it is, and how far along in the week, and can refine the suggestions based on that. Beyond that it can even figure out what the user talks about most frequently at different times of the day and factor that into the suggestions, meaning that more regular use of the keyboard will make it function better.

There's obviously a distinct educational value tied to the app, as each symbol is tied to the corresponding word. Other tools like this have been around for quite some time, but they tend to be almost prohibitively expensive, even with disability grants taken into account. SwiftKey Symbols is completely free, and available on both Google Play and the app store. It's an extremely commendable undertaking, and its research value is vast, as well as just helping kids overcome a seemingly insurmountable barrier between themselves and social interaction.



Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF


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Symbol Keyboard for Nonverbal Users Launched by SwiftKey Reviewed by Callum Davies on Thursday, December 17, 2015 Rating: 5

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