Learning method

General points
Files and Folders
The Finder
Apple menu*
Scanning panel
Mouse action
Electronic mail
Keyboard shortcuts
System Preferences*
Making scanning panels I*
Making scanning panels II*
General points

This method is meant for persons with severe motor disabilities, having no  head, or finger movement, knowing nothing about computers and willing to use a Macintosh as means of communication. I strongly recommend Macintosh for two reasons. First, Apple has done great efforts to make computer accessible to persons with motor disabilities. Secondly, that new operating system Mac OS X, rarely blocks , and you have a system to force the responsible application to quit, so that you do not need to restart your computer, which is an impossible operation for whom has no hands to press the restart button.

On Mac OS X, you have an excellent scanning software named SwitchXS, which has with KeyStrokes, all the necessary features to write rapidly. As far as I know, there are no such products on PC. For those who can turn their head, I recommend KeyStrokes, which works with a trackball, much faster than any scanning system. 

This method is essentially for those who use a Mac with SwitchXS software, but most points work also with KeyStrokes software, for they have Macintosh handling problems. 

Installation : in addition of your computer, you need :

-a switch adapted to your morphology, that is to a part of your body still having a small movement. I first used a tongue, and then, when I could not reach it any more, I had a muscular switch stuck on my cheek, which works even better than a tongue. You can find those switches on plenty of web sites. In France you have :


-an USB switch interface that permits scanning, for SwitchXS works with a virtual keyboard that appears on your screen when you switch and that scans lines, columns and keys as you go on switching. The best and cheapest interface is positively an arranged mouse, where you branch on the left click of a normal mouse, a wire fit with a female jack plug. You do that with a soldering iron. If you cannot do that very simple connection, you can buy a switch interface on one of those web sites, indicated on the panel at the bottom of that web page, but they are not reliable at all, I burnt three joysticks


-SwitchXS software that you can download from


This learning method has no pretension to be exhaustive. It is meant for persons having never touched a computer, and willing to be initiated to Mac OS X with SwitchXS. I propose them to download the following scanning panel :

Download "Keyboard and mouse bis.spnl"

And to put it in (see the definition of an “access path” in “folders and files”) :

Home / Library / Application Support / Assistiveware Support / SwitchXS Scan Panels 

For those who know how a computer works, and who only want an initiation to OS X operating system, see chapters with an asterisk (*).


Menu : is the horizontal white strip on the top of the screen. The left part changes with the application, apart from the blue apple on the very left. If you click (see chapter “mouse” to know what “click” means) on that blue apple, appears a list named “Apple Menu”. Then comes the name of the application in which you are, and then “File” and “Edit” menu, then it changes with the application and it finishes by the “Window” menu and the “Help” menu. On the right part of that horizontal strip, you put yourself the various icons from the various headings of the “System Preferences”.

Scanning menu : for persons who can hold a mouse with their hands, it is very simple to reach a menu with a mouse, but for those who have to use SwitchXS, it is impossible. That is why we have a key (first key, third row in the “Keyboard and Mouse bis” scanning panel) which scans the menu. When you select that key, it scans the menu, then you switch a first time to select the right menu, and a second switch to select the task.

Synonyms : the modifying key (see chapter “Keyboard Shortcuts”) called “Option” on Macintosh is called “Alt” on PC. Saying “Apple” or “Command” is the same thing. 

Note : instead of saying “select a key”, I will say “type”, as if the scanning panel was a physical keyboard.