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  • #10051


    Stage Prototype
    Project Need Agility / Dexterity
    Created By Makers Making Change
    Capabilities Needed Design, Laser Cutting
    Time to Complete —
    Cost to Build —
    Creative Commons License Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

    A keyguard is a thin plate that sits over top of a keyboard or an Alternate and Augmentative Communication (AAC) device. A keyguard may help a user use the keyboard or AAC device more easily and more effectively by helping them press buttons more accurately and helping support their hand or finger to reduce fatigue. Keyguards can also be used with a stylus.

    Keyguards may assist individuals with Autism, Down Syndrome, ALS, apraxia, stroke, or other conditions that affect a person’s ability to use natural speech.



    Hi yesterday on the Makers Making Change US Chapter call, the topic of Keyguards came up. Katie from MI found there was a big need for them, especially one for LAMP Words for Life, as that is a standard AAC app used in her school system, used on iPads.

    From Katie:
    Project Ideas/Need:-Keyguard for LAMP Words For Life

    * 5”×.5” keys
    * 84 Key



    Alice from NM, another MMC Chapter Leader, found getting screenshots really help getting a good design down, here is her workflow for a screenshot:

    For any app on the iPad, there are different ways to capture the entire screen. One is to push the round Home/Touch ID button on the front of the screen and the on/off button on the opposite side/edge at the same time. The entire screen is captured/saved into your photos (Camera) folder. The second way is to use the Accessibility/Assistive Touch feature: Device/More/Screenshot. Similarly, the entire screen is captured/saved into the photos (Camera) folder. Using this info and the model of iPad, it’s relatively easy to use a laser cutter to cut a keyguard.


    Jamie Crum from CTEC California has the following workflow to get a keyguard designed to prep for laser cutting, based on his experience in helping us build a repository of solutions:

    We pretty much abandoned to the whole trying to make a bank of templates to work from. It’s so fast to do in Google Draw. By the time you try to find the correct template and make adjustments you can have it designed and cutting. lol

    Also I’ve had the opportunity to coach my staff remotely by collaborate with them in Google draw while Building their keyguards at the same time. So cool!

    I have made a couple of keyguards remotely but what I do is have someone on a zoom meeting with device and a ruler in hand. I walk them through how to position the camera while while on the zoom meeting I just grab screenshots of their device and pageset.

    Then I let them watch me draw the holes or rectangles on top of their device. Our clients seem to enjoy the process of watching it be designed. I know it’s not really scalable, but it’s pretty efficient. Because we can bill for our time if it’s client-facing it really works for our billing model and reduces the number of redos.

    Here’s the PPT instructions my team uses…

    [https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1frPUxDwRMWHGyO2xDcI1KHlFyp3jHw08ORidamtb44E/edit#slide=id.p](https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1frPUxDwRMWHGyO2xDcI1KHlFyp3jHw08ORidamtb44E/edit#slide=id.p )


    Some laser cutters use Inkscape to design the cuts. Similar to Jamie Crum’s step-by-step for Google Draw, import the screen captured into Inkscape* then draw circles/rounded rectangles/etc. for the desired cutouts.

    This is why it’s relatively easy to laser cut a keyguard with a captured screen!

    * Sometimes, the screen captured is not sized correctly because of pixel-size, screen-capture software, etc.. To fix this, draw a rectangle in the exact size of the screen captured. Stretch the imported image to fit the width and length of the (correct) size of screen. This rectangle may be deleted before final keyguard (laser) cutting or left in the design file with a line-width that will not be “cut”.


    Additional resources for creating Keyguards:


    These are designed to be made using a CNC cutter, typically out of 3 mm PET-G.

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