Penfriend is a very flexible word prediction program and on-screen keyboard that integrates brilliantly into Clicker 4 and now the new Clicker 5. Penfriend has been around for many users and has proven itself to be a robust and reliable tool that belongs in every assessment kit.
Penfriend's main purpose is to predict words as you type them, therefore reducing the number of keystrokes needed. This is a great solution for those who find typing physically difficult or slow. Word prediction is also often used by people with milder cognitive difficulties such as dyslexia. Penfriend can be used in this way but lacks support of flexible spellings so software such as Read & Write or Co:Writer may be a more suitable option.
Penfriend also comes with an on-screen keyboard to allow you to type using the mouse or a mouse alternative and is supported by speech feedback.
Penfriend is available in three versions:
Penfriend attempts to predict the next word that you are about to type. It does this by using a combination of basic English grammar and your personal writing style that it learns gradually the more it is used. Penfriend will produce a list of twelve possible words to follow the one you've already written.
If the word you're thinking of does not appear on this list you will need to start typing it in. In the screenshot above, 'easier' did not appear in the list immediately after I finished typing 'and', so I had to type an 'e' to bring up words beginning with just that letter. As 'easier' still didn't appear I produced the next letter - an 'a' - so that the list would only display words that begin 'ea'. At this point 'easier' has appeared so I can press F11 or use the mouse to select the word. Including the proceeding space, which is added automatically, I have saved myself four keystrokes.
Penfriend learns as you type so that the words that you use most frequently tend to pop up at the top of the list and often without any typing prompts required at all.
The Penfriend on-screen keyboard (OSK) is a resizable QWERTY keyboard that can be placed anywhere on the screen to allow typing using the mouse or mouse alternative. This is great for a lot of rollerball and joystick users with severe physical difficulties.
The on-screen keyboard can be used with or without the word prediction but one can usually type a lot faster with prediction enabled. The keyboard itself is rather limited when compared to some other dedicated OSKs, for example is provides no scanning access for switch users.
Penfriend's prediction engine integrates automatically with Clicker 4 and Clicker 5's built-in on-screen keyboard grids. This function really does make this program a unique and important part of any assessment kit as it allows early learners, switch users and older people with learning difficulties access to practical written communication.
Penfriend can also use synthesized speech to read aloud words and letters, or just whole sentences, as you type them into any word processor, including Microsoft Word. It will also read aloud words from the prediction list - most usefully when hovered over with the mouse. Penfriend supports all the SAPI voices including the impressive new AT&T voices.
The following suppliers can provide the various Penfriend versions. Appearance on this list does not indicate an endorsement by this site. If you are a supplier and are not on this list then please contact me.
0131 668 2000 | www.penfriend.ltd.uk
01457 819790 | www.inclusive.co.uk
02380 584314 | www.keytools.com
0161 827 2719 | www.semerc.com
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