Preference and visual cognitive processing demands of alphabetic and QWERTY keyboards of individuals with and without brain injury

Jessica Gormley, Susan Koch Fager

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Following a severe brain injury (BI), some literate individuals who require augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) strategies to support communication may benefit from the use of onscreen keyboards to generate text. A range of layouts are available to these individuals within specialized communication software. However, a paucity of information is available to describe user preferences, user perceptions, as well as the visual-cognitive processing demands of such layouts. Such information is critical to guide clinical decision-making for keyboard selection and to provide patient-centered services. This study: (a) described the preferences and perceptions of two onscreen keyboard layouts (QWERTY and alphabetic) and (b) used eye-tracking analysis to investigate the visual-cognitive processing demands between these onscreen keyboards for individuals with and without BI. Results indicated participants in both groups held a strong preference for QWERTY keyboard interfaces and had extensive prior experience using the QWERTY keyboard layout on mobile devices. Eye-tracking analysis revealed less visual-cognitive processing demands using a QWERTY keyboard layout for both groups but were only statistically significant for those without BI. Results suggest that use of a keyboard layout that aligns with client preferences and prior experiences (i.e., the QWERTY keyboard for these participants) may lead to increased satisfaction with the communication experience and increased communication efficiency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)341-351
Number of pages11
JournalAssistive Technology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • augmentative and alternative communication
  • communication
  • computer access

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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