Many elders have never learned to type, or learned to type on typewriters, and have not learned the features of the computer keyboard. Behaviors observed in the development of the Elder interface include using the Caps Lock key rather than Shift to produce upper-case letters, using the letter "O" (upper-case oh) for the number 0 (zero), and the lower-case "l" (el) for the number 1 (one). On older typewriters, this was the only way to produce these numbers, and the habits must be unlearned. Beyond the typical errors of "hunt and peck" typing, one of the most common errors observed during the development of the Elder Interface was failure to insert space characters, especially after punctuation. In long hand writing, a space is not a thing that the writer produces, but is generated by not drawing a line. Many elders appeared to have difficulty in remembering to generate an invisible character.

The most common keyboarding difficulty observed in elders was slow, deliberate typing. When a key on the keyboard is held down, it will begin repeating. Elders often produced long streams of characters that they did not intend. The "Keyboard" control panel allows changing the repeat behavior of the keyboard, but a better solution, for most elders, is to disable it entirely. This can be done using the "Accessibility" control panel.

The control panel can be found about the middle of the right column of the start menu. Click image for a larger view.

Open the "Accessibility Options" control panel by selecting Start>Control Panels. This will open a window containing the control panels of the computer. (Note: if your system is set to "category view," you will click on "Accessibility Options," then, in the resulting window, on "Accessibility Options" again.) Near the top of the window, locate and double-click the "Accessibility Options" panel. This will open a window labeled "Accessibility Options," with a row of tabs along the upper edge. By default, the "Keyboard" tab is selected when the window opens, but if another tab is selected, simply click on the "Keyboard" tab to select it.

Click the Keyboard Tab to set keyboard featuresClick image for a larger view.

There are three keyboard options available in this control panel: StickyKeys, FilterKeys, and ToggleKeys. Click the checkbox labeled "Use FilterKeys." Next, click the "Settings" button just to the right of the check box. This will open the "Settings for FilterKeys" window.

Click the Settings Button to the right of the Filter Keys checkbox.Click image for a larger view.

Locate and click the "Ignore quick keystrokes and slow down the repeat rate" control. Next, click the "Settings" button just to the right of this control to open the "Advanced Settings for FilterKeys" window. There are two sets of settings here which must be adjusted. In the upper cluster, click the control for "No keyboard repeat." This will allow the user to press keys indefinitely without repeating. However, an additional feature of FilterKeys would require the user to hold the key down for a full second before anything happened at all.

You must change the setting for SlowKeys to 0.0 secondsClick image for a larger view.

To avoid making and elder's typing even more slow and deliberate, the SlowKeys setting must be changed. In the lower, "SlowKeys" cluster of controls, locate the pull-down menu labeled "Keys must be held down for:" Click within the text area of this box to open the menu, and select 0.0 seconds. This will allow the keyboard to respond as soon as a key is pressed.

Click OK to close the "Advanced Settings for FilterKeys" window. Click OK to close the "Settings for FilterKeys" window. After double-checking that the "Use FilterKeys" checkbox is checked, click OK to close the "Accessibility Options" window. The elder should now be able to hold keys down without repeat.

In our testing of the elder interface, this change did not inconvenience any participant. In fact, virtually no one noticed the change at all, but there were no "repeated character" errors.