Tag Archives: vision

Most Wanted: ReaderBoard, Alias: BoomerBoard

Chester Creek is best known for its Children’s mice and its large-key keyboards.

Our VisionBoard and VisionBoard 2 feature huge, bold, easy-to-read lettering on a key a full inch across.  This keyboard is perfect for individuals who suffer from vision and/or motor impairment.  You can see below how easy to read the legend is.  Notice also that the keys are sufficiently large and spaced that even user with arthritis or impairments that cause shaking can use.  We now offer our VisionBoards in a wireless model, to make them even more portable, adaptable, and usable for you.  For users who have an especially difficult time hitting the correct key or hitting only one key at a time, we also offer the KeyGuard, making every key stroke a bullseye.

What many of our consumers don’t realize is that our VisionBoard has a younger brother, the ReaderBoard.   The Reader is the perfect solution for individuals who work in low light or suffer from slight to moderate vision  impairment.  The ReaderBoard has the same layout and key size as a standard keyboard, making a switch absolutely seamless.  What sets it apart from standard keyboards (apart from that stylish design, of course) is that the ReaderBoard features a legend 250% the size of a standard keyboard.  I’d like you to take a moment now to look at the keyboard you’re using now.  See the letters, numbers, and commands?  How much of the key do they take up?  I’m guessing about one quarter – maybe they’re in the top left corner of the key, like my laptop.  The ReaderBoard’s labels fill the entire key with bold white lettering, so you can read it whether you’re working late in low light, getting a jump start before the sun is shining in the window, or even when you just don’t feel like grabbing your reading glasses.

That’s the beauty of the ReaderBoard.  For many individuals, standard keyboards can be hard to read.  This doesn’t mean those users need or want to transition to a large-key keyboard.  Chester Creek has created a middle ground.  With thousands of Boomers reaching the “mature-but-not-old-yet” stage, the ReaderBoard, or the BoomerBoard as we like to call it, is the perfect solution.  There’s no reason you need to wear reading glasses just to use a computer or transition to a large-key keyboard just because the tiny letter on a standard board strain your eyes in certain light.  As always, you can rely on Chester Creek to be working on bringing you exactly what you need for every stage of your life  From toddling to school to work and to retirement, we’re there for you.

(Don’t forget to check out our Wireless Mice to match the Vision Boards and our super-comfortable ReaderMouse to match the ReaderBoard.)

Canada, eh? Our Friends North of the Border

Chester Creek produces computer keyboards, mice, and accessories that are available world wide.  We ship right here in Duluth all the way to the land down under.  But we could never do it without help.  It’s time to give some credit where credit is due.  We’re going to start off with our nearest neighbors to the North: Canada, eh?
Chester Creek has a handful of distributors in the great white North that is Canada, but today, we are going to focus on just three. Special Needs Computer Solutions offers their consumers the nicest and newest assistive technology.  With hundreds  of items ranging from ergonomic work stations to portable Braille printers to large-print keyboards (you already knew that part, didn’t you?).  Special Needs Computer Solution puts the focus on support, including consultation and training for the products they carry.  Check them out online here.
Aroga has been providing assistive technologies to their consumers for twenty-three years.  Look to Aroga for vision aids, communication aids, physical access products, and education tools.  Not only do they offer a variety of products, they also offer a variety of resources.  Aroga provides information on training, events, and the latest low-vision news.   Find all this and more here.
Last but not least is Bridges.  Bridges brings together a team of professions to bring their customers great assistive technology.  They offer direct sales as well as professional developement in both English and French.  As their vision statement says, Bridges aims to:
  • To provide a wide-offering of solutions to individuals with special needs that will facilitate their successful participation in all areas of their life.
  • To promote awareness of Assistive Technology and the impact that it has on individuals with special needs.
  • To promote successful implementation of Assistive Technology through professional development programs (that increase knowledge, skill and application of Assistive Technology).

 Take a look at their offerings here.

Of course, the one thing all these companies have in common is a devotion to bringing their consumers the best new products and the most reliable old favorites – including an array of Chester Creek products.

Colors of the Wind

“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.”
-Georgia O’Keefe
We see the world around us through an array of colors. Red apples, green grass, blue skies. The colors we see affect our impression of the things that we are seeing, whether we know it or not. For instance, a bright red has been shown to stimulate the autonomic nervous system, creating a slight change in pulse and blood pressure. These effects occur because color is perceived, not only on the surface of the brain, but also in the limbic system, which is often referred to as the “primitive brain.” Red, given this fact as well as its cultural associations, can influence people to be more risk-averse and detail-oriented. Even blind, color-blind, and blind-folded individuals have been shown to experience different physiological sensations under different color lights.

Blue and green, conversely, have been shown to have a calming effect on individuals and to stimulate creative thinking. Certain shades of blue have even been shown to slow the heart rate. It is for this reason that “cardiac blue” is so frequently used in medical centers and hospitals. The debate about certain color improving productivity has gone on for a long time. The truth is, different colors can encourage different types of productivity: red for detail-oriented work and blue for creative work. Blue has also been shown to act as an appetite suppressant. Yellow caution signs and the like work well because yellow is an attention-getting color. Too much yellow, however, can cause headaches and irritability because it over stimulates the eyes.

Similarly, experts advise refraining from over use of color. More than six bold colors in any one piece (wallpaper, for instance) can be overwhelming and inhibit cognition.

Children are usually drawn by warm, bight colors. Using these colors in learning environments can have very positive affects. A classroom decorated in friendly colors can reduce stress, improve visual processing, increase focus and attention span, and aid brain development in visual thinking, problem solving, and creativity.  In fact, color speeds up learning and retention by as much as 78% and use of bold colors (as oposed to black and white) can increase IQ by up to 12 points.

For special needs children specifically, color can be either helpful or harmful, depending on how it is used. Regular, geometric patterns can be used to stimulate the pattern seeking part of the brain and reduce visual stress (in comparison with irregular or more complicated patterns). Autistic children in particular can be overwhelmed easily by color. Researchers have found that approximately 85% of autistic children see colors with greater intensity than do their neurotypical peers. This is not to say that the learning environment of a child with an ASD (Autism spectrum disorder) should be devoid of bright colors or decoration, but rather that bold colors should be used carefully, in that setting. In fact, we have heard from several parents and instructors that children on the spectrum benefit greatly from our colored keyboards because of the color-coding.

Dyslexic children generally benefit from well-used color.  A study has shown that 80% of dyslexic children showed increased understanding of read materials when displayed with a colored overlay.  Color-coding by character set can help with spelling on keyboards for those with dyslexia. Those with ADD and ADHD are also helped by the use of color.  Color has been shown to help with focus for these individuals as well as individuals with Down Syndrome by maintaining interest and breaking monotony.

The benefits of using more color are not limited only to children; repetition of colors has also enhanced the memory of nursing home residents and productivity across most demographics.

Macular degeneration, etc…

Chester Creek Technologies began with the idea to create a line of functional and fun keyboards and mice for children and those with special needs.  Today, we offer over a dozen keyboards and nearly as many mice, not to mention the many other computer accessories that we have added over the years.  What started as a kid-friendly group of products has expanded into the assistive technology niche, and Chester Creek is now known for their high visibility keyboards as well.
In addition to our VisionBoard Black, our VisionBoard2 – white and yellow – and our ReaderBoard, we are now offering a wireless VisionBoard in black or white for greater flexibility.  These keyboards feature large print and high-contrast color schemes, which can greatly increase visibility for a number of conditions.  For instance, our VisionBoard Yellow has been incredibly beneficial for many individuals suffering from macular degeneration.
The macula is a part of the nerves inside the eye that focuses on details and colors directly in the line of vision. With macular degeneration, the center of one’s field of vision becomes distorted and eventually completely occluded.   Certain types of color blindness can also make use of a standard keyboard more difficult, as can other disorders like glaucoma.  Click on the links for simultions of how these can affect your vision.

Software Bundles

I know, I know.  We’ve been telling you all about new products that we’re coming out with, but actual introduction of the items for sale has been slow.

TextSpeak is up. This is a great, ultra-portable little Augmentative Communication keyboard device that allows people to talk through their keyboard, no computer required.

Braille Stickers are up.  These are the only Braille stickers for large-key keyboards, and are clear so that the large-print legend remains visible.

Headphones and the LittleMouse are new.  Chester Headphones are sturdy and adjustable enough for everyone, plus comfy and with convenient inline volume control.  The LittleMouse is perfect for kids still learning (color-coded!), or anyone who doesn’t want to worry about a scroll wheel.

Large-key numeric pad is up coming soon. This keypad is intended as a companion to any of our large-key keyboards for those who prefer the grid layout of numbers, but is also useful paired with any keyboard for those who like or need larger keys.  The keypad should be available by the end of the month.

The Wireless VisionBoard should be in by the end of the month, as well.  This keyboard is very similar to our VisionBoard, but includes f-keys, and will be available in black and white to start with.

We also have some great educational software bundles coming in soon.  We will be offering a pre-K bundle and an early elementary bundle, both of which will feature five titles.

The pre-K bundle will feature:

Baileys Book House
Millie’s Math House
Trudys Time and Place House
Sammy Science House
Thinking Things Toony the Loons Lagoon

Our early elementary bundle will include:
Mighty Math Carnival Countdown
Reader Rabbit 1st Grade
Typing Instructor for Kids Platinum
Reader Rabbit 2nd grade
Zoombinis Island Odyssey

The New Numeric Keypad

Along with other new products we’ve been working on for the new year, we are also now offering our new large-key numeric keypad.

With keys and coloring to match our white VisionBoard2, the keypad is a separate device, which plugs into any USB port for immediate use without installation.  While our VisionBoards offer the row of numeric keys across the top, they lack the typical number pad on the far right.  That is where this key pad comes in.

Moderately Magical Mondays and High Visibility Keyboards

The only fun hijinks in the office here today include adventures in boxland and a heated discussion about the inadequacy of cordless phones.  With the rolling in of the new year comes the rolling out of old files.  Box them up and put them some place, never to be seen again. Of course, this involves assembling the boxes.  Watching Tasha do so? Mildly entertaining. Watching Karen make the attempt?  Hilarious.  They come in a big flat package, perforated cardboard sheets you magically fold into a box, the way a square of paper magically becomes an oragami crane.  Magic.  If you know how.  If you don’t, hilarity.


High Visibility Keyboards

For some, using a keyboard can be a challenge.  Small keys and smaller letters can be a struggle to identify.  For those who need their reading glasses just to type a quick note, who squint at their keyboards and strain their eyes, we introduce the ReaderBoard.  A relatively new product from Chester Creek, the ReaderBoard is a standard sized keyboard, with the standard offset QWERTY layout.  What sets our ReaderBoard apart from most keyboards is the size of lettering.  Each letter, number, function, and punctuation mark is 250% larger than standard.  This clear, bold, white lettering on a black keyboard drastically improves readability for those who struggle with sight but are accustomed to the standard keyboard.

For other users, who do not touch type or who are willing to adapt, we also offer large-key keyboards.  These keyboards all feature 1 inch keys with large, bold print.  Visibility is improved, and large buttons are often easier for those with shakiness or motor impairment of any kind.  These large-key boards are our VisionBoards2 series, and come in black on white, white on black, and black on yellow (Think caution sign — particularly beneficial for those suffering from macular degeneration).

For the young and young at heart with vision impairment, Chester Creek also offers a line of large-key keyboards in bright colors, coded by character set.  The differentiation of character set by color can also help those with poor vision to find the keys they want more quickly.

Assistive Technology

Typing can be the ideal solution for those with learning or motor impairments that prevent them from easily expressing themselves with pen (or pencil) and paper, for school work, correspondence, or any one of a number of needs. The problem is that standard keyboards are boring, hard to read, and feature small keys.

Our large-key keyboards feature large print, high visibility, and 1” keys. This makes typing significantly easier for those with sight or dexterity limitations. The VisionBoards, for instance, comes in three color arrangements: white on black, black on white, and a special black on yellow color scheme that has proven very useful for individuals with macular degeneration. We also offer large-key keyboards for kids with bight, fun, color-coded keys to help kids locate letters and stay interested. All of our large-key keyboards eliminate unnecessary and confusing hot keys and are available with or without F-keys.

We also offer a great key-guard made to fit snugly over our large-key keyboards. This is a metal guard that prevents a user from accidentally pushing wrong or multiple buttons. The guard can also aid in use by individuals pushing the keys with a tool.

Our small mice are also a wonderful solution for special needs or dexterity impaired users. Many find the smaller size of a Chester Mouse, TinyMouse, or LittleMouse easier to grip and manipulate. The Chester is a one-button mouse, for added ease of use.

Chester Creek is working on a great new product called TextSpeak, designed to help vocally impaired individuals communicate.  Look for more on this later in the week.


Watch out Australia; Here we come! Chester Creeks’ full line of products is now available to our pals in the land down under. Check out Spectronics to order products in Australia and New Zealand.

Can you tell how excited we are about this?

About Us

“In the beginning, there was a Little Mouse™…”
…and one simple goal: to be a progressive and innovative company people rely on for colorful computer keyboards and mice for children, and for individuals with special needs.

The company is located on the scenic shores of beautiful Lake Superior, just a stone’s throw from Chester Creek, a picturesque creek surrounded by towering pines and hardwoods that turn brilliant shades of orange and red each Fall. It’s a peaceful place in Northern Minnesota where the hard edge of technology and the time-honored ideals of rural America converge.

Chester Creek offers a high-tech lineup of functional, fun and affordable computer keyboards and mice for all ages and abilities, keyboards with big, oversized 1″ keys, two-button and one-button tiny mice sized just right for little hands, color-coded and standard-sized keyboards, a color-coded typing tutorial, software and accessories.

Above all, Chester Creek strives to meet our goals everyday, in the products we market and the service we provide. We know that to maintain a superior reputation, we must first earn it. To that end, Chester Creek designs and manufactures “the very best” products, contributes to minimizing environmental burden through the effective application of RoHS and CPSIA standards, and most importantly, makes every effort to meet the ever-changing needs of our customers.