External buttons can help people, who do not only have problems to speak but also do have limited motoric functionality, so they have difficulties to use the large touch screen or choose the right pictogram. With such a button, LetMeTalk can be used, even if someone is only able to use one finger.

In this article we describe how to use external buttons or keyboards with LetMeTalk on Android.

A similar article for iOS can be found here!

We expect the configuration to be done by an guide (parent, teacher, speech therapist...) as it is very difficult to do for someone with limited motoric functionality.

 At the bottom you will find a list of screenshots which should help you during this tutorial.

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1. What hardware is supported?

Our app does not care about the hardware used. We depend here on the Android Operating System.

This tutorial describes hardware using Bluetooth to connect to your Android device.


2. Which Android version do I need?

You need Android 5.0 Lollipop or higher. Earlier Android versions are not supported!

3. What hardware do you use in this tutorial?

In this tutorial we show an external button using Bluetooth called iMonkey from ZHC Systems. This button behaves like a Bluetooth keyboard with only 2 keys. One key is send after a short tap, the other one after a long tap.

Other buttons should work. If you just want to test, you might even use a bluetooth keyboard which you might have lying arround.

4. Pair the button with your Android device

"Pairing" is a function to connect a bluetooth device (like iMonkey) with your Android device. This has to be done only once. Once this has be done, the button should "just work" once it is close enough to your Android device.

To start the pairing, start the Android Settings and go to "Wireless & Networks -> Bluetooth (Screenshot1).

Enable Bluetooth (1 in screenshot2). You should see a "waiting indicator" which shows that Android is searching for another bluetooth device. If this stopped, you can just disable / enable bluetooth to restart the search.

Switch on your external button. The iMonkey has an On/Off switch on the bottom side. Right beside it you can find a button for pairing. You will need a pen or a similar device to click it. Once pressed, the iMonkey will make a noise and the LED will be on for 5 seconds to show that it started the pairing process.

Under "Android" the keyboard should now be listed in the "Available devices" section (2 in Screenshot2). Click on it to start the connection between Android and iMonkey.

Now the iMonkey should be shown in the "Paired devices" section labled with "connected" (Screenshot3).


5. Configuration

In the Android Settings, Go to "System -> Accessibility -> Switch Access". See Screenshots4+5.

Enable Switch-Access (1 in Screenshot6).

In the upper right corner you find the well hidden point "Settings". Click on it (2 in Screenshot6).

Here you have 2 different possibilities, with our without Autoscan. Try both to find out which you like better.

Autoscan means, that the cursor moves alone. The user only has to tap the button when the wanted cell is selected. Without Autoscan the user has to tap on button to move the cursor to the next item and select the item with a long tap.

5.1. With Autoscan

Enable "Enable Auto Scan".

Tap on "Key Combo for Auto Scan". If it already has a key assigned, Tap on "Clear Key Assignment". Now make a long tap on the iMonkey. The screen should now say "KEYCODE_ENTER". Press "OK".

Tap on "Key Combo for SELECT". Make a short Tap on the iMonkey button. The screen should now say "KEYCODE_SPACE". Press "OK" (See Screenshot7).

To see Autoscan in action, start LetMeTalk. Now make a long tap on the iMonkey button. The cursor should now move from item to item. Make a short tap if you if the cursor reached the wanted item. On the next page you have to make a long tap to restart Autoscan again.

5.2. Without Autoscan

Make sure, "Enable Auto Scan" is disabled.

Tap on "Key Combo for NEXT". If needed, click on "Clear Key Assignment". Now make a short tap on the iMonkey button. It should now say "KEYCODE_SPACE". Press OK.

Tap on "Key Combo for SELECT". If needed, click on "Clear Key Assignment". Now make a long tap on the iMonkey button. It should say "KEYCODE_ENTER". Press OK. (See Screenshot8)

To see scanning in action, start LetMeTalk. Make several short taps. The cursor should now move from item to item with each tap. Once you reached the wanted item, make a long click. On the new page, do the same.

5.3. Usage of the App

You use LetMeTalk just as before, except you do not click on the touch screen but rather tap on iMonkey button :)

6. Optimizing LetMeTalk for external buttons

While LetMeTalk of course works now fine with our external button, some options which are usually useful might get anoying, as the cursor has to move through items you won't need anyway. For this we added some settings to optimize LetMeTalk for the use with external buttons.

You find all these settings in the LetMeTalk Settings in the "App Behaviour" section.

You can see Screenshot9 + 10 for an example Configuration. Do always ask your client and optimize it for him!

6.1. Disable "Enable Modifications"

Disabling this hides the "+" (plus) button and makes it impossible that the user accidently lands in a menu he does not want and which is hard to escape.

This might be not needed if you disable "Show Actionbar Menu".

6.2. Disable "Speak category names"

It might be confusing if the category name is spoken each time the user changes the category.

Please ask the client what he/she prefers.

6.3. Enable Autoremove sentence

This clears the Sentencebar, once a sentence is spoken. With an external button it might be annoying to press "Delete" often enough.

This option doesn't matter, when sentence bar is disabled anyway.

6.4. Disable "Enable Sentencebar"

This option does not show the sentence bar at all, so no sentence is collected. When you press at a word, it is spoken and forgotten by the app.

No need to press PLAY or to Delete the sentence bar.

6.5. Enable "Go back to Start category after selecting word"

In a lot of situations you only select one word from one category, just to go back to the main menu and choose another category.

With this option enabled, LetMeTalk will jump to the back to the Start category right when the user selected a word.

Please use this careful and ask your client about it, as this option might be annoying by itself and do more bad then good.

6.6. Disable "Show Actionbar Menu"

The Actionbar is in the upper right corner, where you usually find the backspace icon, the donation icon and the "+" (plus) icon and so on.

These icons might not be used so often by your clients anyway, but with an external button they need to be skipped for each and every word, again and again. When you disable this option, only the Settings icon remains, so you have a chance to reach the Settings menu again. Everything else is removed from the interface.


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