Skip to main content
Accessibility|Contact|Privacy|Terms|Cookies

OptiKey: Assistive On-screen Keyboard

  • Published: 2015-09-14 (Revised/Updated 2018-04-30) : Author: Thomas C. Weiss : Contact: Disabled World
  • Synopsis: OptiKey is an assistive on-screen keyboard designed to bring mouse, keyboard, and speech control to people with speech and motor limitations.

Quote: "OptiKey is a wonderful piece of software. It is freely available for download and use."

Main Document

OptiKey is an assistive, on-screen keyboard that runs on Microsoft Windows operating systems. It is designed to be used with an eye-tracking device that is low cost in order to bring mouse control, keyboard control and speech to people who experience speech and motor limitations such as those living with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). The software works right out of the box once a person has their eye-tracking device installed and permits selections to be made using dwell selection, as well as physical buttons and assistive devices. If you do not have an eye-tracking device, you can use OptiKey with a mouse.

OptiKey was written to challenge the incredibly expensive, hard to use alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) products on the market that are unreliable. The program is entirely open-source and free of charge; forever. OptiKey may be used as an alternative to a physical keyboard, permitting people to type into any application.

The program can automatically insert spaces between words, as well as capitalize letters for a person to increase their typing rate. You can even type entire words and phrases in one selection by, 'swiping,' or using, 'auto-complete.' To communicate with others around you click the, 'Speak,' button and OptiKey will convert what you type into speech.

OptiKey Mouse Functions

OptiKey can replace your mouse and allow you to click, scroll and drag with exactitude anywhere on your screen. The program's basic mouse actions include basic mouse actions such as left, middle, right click or scrolling. Numbers 11, 12, 13 and 15 as well as numbers 1-9 on the mouse keyboard are performed by selecting the desired mouse action key. A large mouse cursor will be displayed to show where OptiKey is pointing. Direct your attention to the point where you want to perform the mouse action and hold it there. A progress indicator will indicate that you are performing a selection. When the progress indicator completes your mouse action it will be done at that point. When you are scrolling with the mouse, the number of wheel clicks to apply is indicated on key number ten; select this key to change the amount.

Dragging operations, number 16 on the mouse keyboard, is somewhat different because two selections have to be made after you select the drag key. Select point one; the first selection will be where the mouse button is pressed and held down. Then select point two; this is the point to which the mouse cursor is dragged and released.

Image of the OptiKey mouse keyboard
About This Image: Image of the OptiKey mouse keyboard

Using an Eye-Tracking Device

To use an eye-tracking device you will need a tablet, laptop, or desktop computer that meets the minimum requirements of the eye tracker you have chosen. From a broad perspective, you will need at least an Intel i5 processor, at least one USB 3.0 port, as well as a screen size large enough for you to use comfortably. Your screen should measure 13-15" and no more than 24", although it might be possible to use a bigger screen if Windows is limited to only 24" such as if you are using Parallels to run Windows on a Macintosh computer.

Buy one of the low cost eye-tracking devices. The creator of OptiKey recommends the Tobii EyeX tracker or the Eye Tribe one, although the full list of usable eye-tracking devices is available on the OptiKey website. Follow the steps on the, 'Using eye-trackers,' page, it will guide you through the process of setting up your eye-tracker to work with OptiKey. Enjoy controlling your computer and speaking using only your eyes.

OptiKey and the Magnifier

To increase your precision while making mouse selections, you can switch on magnification by pressing or locking down the Magnifier key. You will notice that the Magnification key cycles through three states, UP, DOWN and LOCKED DOWN before returning to UP, which means the magnification functionality can be off, on for just the next mouse action, or permanently on.

Selecting a point is a two step process when you are using the magnifier. Direct your attention to the approximate area you want to click or scroll; a magnified image of the area will be displayed. Direct your attention to precisely where you want to click or scroll in the magnified image to perform the action at that point, or select outside the magnified area to cancel the action.

As for dragging with the Magnifier, or number 16 on the mouse keyboard, is somewhat different because two selections must be made after you select the drag key. Select one point; it will be where the mouse button is pressed and held down. Select another point; this is the point to where the mouse cursor is dragged and released. Bear in mind that the, 'Repeat Last,' key or number 14 on the mouse keyboard permits you to repeat the last mouse action you took, something that may be very useful if you want to scroll down a web page that is long one scroll at time for example.

Image of OptiKey in Microsoft Word
About This Image: Image of OptiKey in Microsoft Word

OptiKey and Sound Settings

With OptiKey selected press, 'ALT,' and, 'M,' on your keyboard to open the Management Console. Select the, 'Sounds,' tab at the top. The Management Console is something that must be accessed using a physical keyboard and mouse. What follows is information on OptiKey and rate, volume and voice.

The purpose of OptiKey is to provide computer accessibility while enabling a person to hopefully avoid the high costs of some hardware. For people who experience ALS for example, OptiKey is a wonderful piece of software. It is freely available for download and use. The creator of OptiKey desires feedback from those who use the software, you will find an email address below to send feedback to concerning the software.

OptiKey V2

OptiKey was written to challenge the outrageously expensive, unreliable and difficult to use AAC (alternative and augmentative communication) products on the market. It is, therefore, fully open-source and free. Forever- Visit www.OptiKey.org for more info and to download.


Have Your Say! - Add your comment or discuss this article on our FaceBook Page.


Interesting Similar Topics
1 : Epihunter Classroom - Making Silent Epileptic Seizures Visible : Mark Winters.
2 : Access Stylus Makes Touchscreens Accessible for Everyone : Arnoldware Applications.
3 : GlassOuse Assistive Device V1.2 and G-Switch Series are Ready for Pre-order : GlassOuse Assistive Devices.
4 : Wearable Stretchable Electronics Aid Stroke Recovery Treatment : Northwestern University.
5 : Augmented Reality ProjectDR Lets Doctors See Under the Skin : University of Alberta.
From our Electronic Devices and Software section - Full List (182 Items)


Submit disability news, coming events, as well as assistive technology product news and reviews.


Loan Information for low income singles, families, seniors and disabled. Includes home, vehicle and personal loans.


Famous People with Disabilities - Well known people with disabilities and conditions who contributed to society.


List of awareness ribbon colors and their meaning. Also see our calendar of awareness dates.


Blood Pressure Chart - What should your blood pressure be, and information on blood group types/compatibility.





1 : Eating at Night, Sleeping By Day Alters Key Blood Proteins
2 : Interior Car Temperature Can Become Life-threatening for Children in an Hour
3 : 20 New Episodes of Letters to Lynette with Dr. Lynette Louise to Air on The Autism Channel in 2018
4 : Turnstone Center Designated as Official Paralympic Training Site by US Olympic Committee
5 : Help Your Child in School by Adding Language to The Math
6 : 50% of Retirees Saw Little or No COLA Increase in Net 2018 Social Security Benefits
7 : Turnstone Endeavor Games Concludes with National Records Broken
8 : Spinning in Circles and Learning From Myself by Tsara Shelton


Disclaimer: This site does not employ and is not overseen by medical professionals. Content on Disabled World is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. See our Terms of Service for more information.

Reporting Errors: Disabled World is an independent website, your assistance in reporting outdated or inaccurate information is appreciated. If you find an error please let us know.

© 2004 - 2018 Disabled World™