MorseWriter

When working with people who are literate but have difficulty accessing the computer using direct access methods – switches may often be looked at. With these people, we are trying to find the most efficient methods of communication. Morse code is a really efficient system for many people  – and this inspirational book by Thomas W. King (sadly now out of print – but made available online here thanks to Adaptive Design) documents some excellent case studies. Sadly though few people are shown it or use it – and we need more documented case studies to explore why this is the case.

AAC products that are now focused on Morse as an input method are limited but products such as the Tandem Master and the Darci USB exist to fill the void. These devices aid people who are familiar with Morse as they act as a Keyboard/Mouse for any PC. Using text to speech software it’s then fairly straightforward to “type” with Morse and get the text to speech software to speak. Most recently Google has taken up Tania’s TandemMaster and released Morse as an input method on their GBoard app for Android and iOS (Read some instructions on getting this working here)  But what if you are new to morse?

Well there are some excellent resources written by Google (see here), and you can try some great audio mnemonic files (this is an excellent resource by the way which will have you saying such phrases as MaWaWa all day long.. (and imagine a baby crying); Code Quick) – and there are a whole heap of resources compiled by Adaptive Design here)

To add to these resources we wanted to make a smoother transition to devices such as GBoard or the Tandem Master. Something that allowed a user to use the same codeset – and deals with prediction  – which significantly speeds up writing (as shown with GBoard). But also – we wanted something that gave the user more immediate feedback as to what they are typing. MorseWriter was envisaged to do this by giving a visual indicator of the keys that can be activated by greying out keys.

For example. Lets type “Hello” (NB: We have prediction turned off in this video)

Notice how the letters are greyed out depending on the next possible Morse code that you can use. We hope that over time this will help with typing with Morse.

Other features supported:

  • Full Keyboard and Mouse access across the computer
  • Supports one switch Morse, Two switch or three switches
  • Can be resized and remembers the location. A config screen starts up the first time its run and then doesn’t show unless the user access it in the taskbar (this has been vital when we leave it with clients for a long period of time and don’t have great access to the screen)
  • Font can be resized
  • Predictions are continually learnt (NB: We make use of the excellent Presage prediction engine)
  • Morse codesets can be modified and moved from one computer to another.

Want to try it? Download it here, and add your switches to the computer to get going. Find a bug or want to help with the software? See all the code and issues etc here on GitHub. 

Please note – this is very much a development project and we can only work on this when we get funding. Want to help? Donate here and let us know!

Credits:

  • Our clients who have driven us to do this
  • Jim Lubin who was instrumental in our early chats about this. Jim uses a sip and puff switch with morse code really well. He has a great website
  • Thomas W. King and the clients he documented in his fantastic book
  • Tania Finlayson and the Tandem Master
  • The team behind the Darci USB system
  • Steven Salmon