Jim Boyce’s column “Try these Windows 2000 keyboard tricks” brought to mind my experiences with students who, because of their disabilities, found it somewhat awkward and cumbersome to use a mouse. With one particular student, I decided to demo one lesson using only keystrokes, even though the student had been using the mouse for most of his work. When the student followed what I had showed him and used the keys instead, he was able to work much more quickly with fewer errors and much less frustration. It occurred to me that for some students, teaching a lesson without the mouse might prove beneficial. Here’s a beginning lesson in Word that is taught entirely without the mouse.

The lesson: Create a simple memo
This lesson will have the students create a simple memo, shown in Figure A, using keyboard shortcuts available in Microsoft Word.

Figure A

Start Microsoft Word

  1. Press [Ctrl][Esc] to show the Windows Start menu.
  2. Use the Up Arrow key to move to Programs.
  3. Use the Right Arrow and Down Arrow keys to move to Microsoft Word.
  4. Press [Enter] to start the application.

If necessary, press [Ctrl][F10] to maximize the Word window.

Entering the text

  1. Type Memorandum and press [Ctrl]E to center the word.
  2. Press [Enter] two times to leave a blank line.
  3. Press [Ctrl]L to return to the left margin.
  4. Type the rest of the text using the default font and format.

To correct mistakes, pressing [Ctrl]Z will undo the last action, while pressing [Ctrl]Y will redo the last action.

Inserting the date
Rather than type in the date, we can use the Insert menu to insert the current date as a field, which will be updated automatically when the document is printed. To insert the date as a field, follow these steps:

  1. Press [Alt]I to open the Insert menu. Note that pressing the [Alt] key and the underlined letter of any item in the menu at the same time is the same as clicking the menu with the mouse.
  2. Arrow down to Date And Time.
  3. Press [Enter] to open the Date And Time dialog box shown in Figure B.

Figure B

  1. Press the Down Arrow key until the desired date format is highlighted.
  2. Press the Tab key twice to move to the Update Automatically check box.
  3. Press the Space Bar once to check the box.
  4. Press [Enter].

Formatting the text
First, we will make the word Memorandum bold.

  1. Press [Ctrl][Home] to move to the beginning of document.
  2. Press [Ctrl][Shift] and the Right Arrow key to select the entire word.
    (Conversely, [Shift] and the Right Arrow key selects one character at a time.)
  3. Press [Ctrl]B.
  4. Press the Down Arrow key to the next typed line and press the [Home] key to bring the cursor to the beginning of the line.
  5. Follow the same procedure as you did for Memorandum to make To, From, Date, and Re bold.

Next, we will justify the paragraph.

  1. Use arrow keys to position the cursor anywhere in the paragraph.
  2. Press [Ctrl]J.

Next, we will change the default font for the entire document to Arial.

  1. Select the entire document by pressing [Ctrl]A.
  2. Press [Ctrl][Shift]F to highlight the font box in the formatting toolbar.
  3. Press the Down Arrow key until Arial is displayed.
  4. Press [Enter] to change the font.

Next, we will change the font size of Memorandum from 12 to 14.

  1. Select the word as we did earlier using [Ctrl][Shift] and the Right Arrow key.
  2. Press [Ctrl][Shift]>.

(Conversely, to reduce the font size to 10 you would press [Ctrl][Shift]<.)

Saving the document to diskette
To save the document to your diskette:

  1. Press [Ctrl]S to bring up the Save As dialog box.
  2. Type the name of the file in the Filename text box.
  3. Press the Tab key until the Save In list box is highlighted.
  4. Press the Down Arrow to display the list.
  5. Press the Up or Down Arrow keys to move to 3-1/2 Floppy (A:).
  6. Press [Enter] to select the floppy diskette drive.
  7. Press [Enter] again to save.

Printing the document
To print the document:

  1. Press [Ctrl]P to bring up the Print dialog box.
  2. Press [Enter] to accept the defaults and print.

Ending your Word session

  1. Press [Ctrl]W to close the document window.
  2. Press [Alt][F4] to end the Word session.

A word of caution
While there are many benefits to teaching keyboard shortcuts, most shortcuts require that the student press two or three keys at the same time. This may prove too difficult for some. For these students, it is a good idea to activate StickyKeys.

Figure C

StickyKeys will allow the keys to work when they are pressed sequentially rather than simultaneously. To activate StickyKeys in Windows, open the Start menu, move to Settings, then Control Panel, and then open Accessibility Properties. Make the Keyboard tab active as shown in Figure C, and under StickyKeys, select the Use StickyKeys check box. You may also want to activate FilterKeys, which will cause Word to ignore brief or repeated keystrokes that the student did not intend to make.

IT and the Americans with Disabilities Act

Has your IT department been affected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)? Have you had to install special hardware or software to meet the needs of a disabled employee? Post a comment to this article and let us know. For more information on the ADA, check out the U.S. Department of Justice’s ADA home page.