A computer mouse, has as it's most common standard features: two buttons and a scroll wheel. However, not everyone can use a 'standard' mouse comfortably. Everyone has their own preference for style and features, and where disability is concerned, i.e. arthtritis, limited hand function, repetitive strain injury etc, there is often no choice other than to find an alternative. Computer Mice now come in many different shapes and sizes: Roller Ball, Trackball , Optical, Laser, Wireless, Touch Pads, Ergonomic, Joystick, Foot operated etc etc.
Here's just a small sample:
Alternatives to a standard Mouse
More on Mice . . .
Like the mouse, not everyone can use the 'standard' keyboard. Difficulties with the hands/arms often force users to look for an alternative.
A small sample of keyboard alternatives:
Alternatives to the Standard Keyboards
Big Keys LX
General overview of alternative Keyboards and Mice (AbilityNet factsheet) . . .
Expanded keyboards can help in situations where it is difficult to accurately locate a normal sized keytop. The larger size gives more area to "aim at".
Many expanded keyboards have a "built-in guard" as the letters are slightly sunk beneath the surface of the keyboard.
"IntelliKeys" is a flat keyboard which is pressure sensitive. It comes with a number of "overlays" which define the action of areas on the surface of the board. You can change layouts "on the fly". In addition you can design your own layouts. This can be useful if you only want to work with a small number of keys.
Concept keyboards are also flat and pressure sensitive. These come in A4 and A3 sizes and have a number of predefined "cells" on their surface. Using a software package it is possible to assign certain keystrokes/sounds/actions to particular areas on the concept keyboard. After defining the areas on the keyboard, a paper overlay can be printed or drawn to show the active areas
Some disabilities require the keyboard user to fit a frame over the top - called a keyguard. Essentially what this does, is to enable someone with a tremor or who has difficulty controlling the hands/fingers to press individual keys, without accidentally hitting others. You can buy the keyguard on their own but with so many keyboards on the market it is often difficult to match a keyguard to a particular keyboard.
Cherry compact and keyguard
Keyguard for an Alphasmart
Standard keyboard and plastic guard
Maxess number pad keyguard
Some people are unable to access a computer the conventional way, i.e. by using a keyboard or mouse to input information, or manipulate what's happening on the screen. For many, the only option is for some means of 'hands-free' method. Such methods include: Eye and Head Tracking - where either eye movement or movement of the head is picked up a sensor and converted into mouse cursor movement, or Sip and Puff - where the user sucks or blows on a tube which converts the air pressure variations into mouse cursor movements. Keytools also sell The Integra Mouse.
Sip and Puff headset user
| Using the LipSync Sip and Puff mouse || Alternative input methods which are transforming people's lives|
Whilst keyboard and mouse might be considered by many as the standard' method for inputting information to a computer, not everyone is able to use one, for one reason or another. For some people, their only means of inputting is either by means of Voice Recognition software, or by means of 'eye tracking'.
What is 'eye tracking' ?. Essentially, it replaces the mouse on Windows applications. This allows the user to place the mouse cursor on any spot of the screen, by simply looking at that spot. Mouse clicking is achieved by blinking slowly, or by 'dwelling', that is, keeping the cursor on the spot for a fixed time. If this is combined with an on-screen keyboard, the user can communicate by text and/or voice. There are various options to emulate different kinds of mouse clicks, which allow users total contol over Windows. This includes click, double click, right mouse clicking, drag and drop etc. (Read more about this technology at: Wikipedia/Eye Tracking)
A wireless optical sensor which tracks a tiny and disposable target, is placed on the user’s forehead, cap or glasses. The user moves their head and controls the movement of the mouse cursor. When this capability is combined with on-screen keyboard software, the HeadMouse can completely replace the functions of a conventional keyboard. One of the most commonly used head mice is the Smart Nav 4. Unfortunately this software only works on Windows based systems. If you have a Mac computer you will need to look at a head mouse made by Orin
Dwell Click or Drag Lock
Dwell Click (PC)
Dwelling is resting the mouse over one area of the screen for a specified time. The dwell click software allows you to:
- double click
- drag things around the screen
More information about Dwell click (Sensory Software)
DwellClick (for Mac)
Just point with your mouse or trackpad, and DwellClick clicks and drags for you
| DwellClick || Voice clicking with DwellClick and Dragon Dictate|
More information about DwellClick
Smart Click (for Mac)
A utility for Mac users, that permits a person, that can operate a pointing device, like SAM-Joystickor a Tracker or HeadMouse, but cannot click any buttons, to perform all button functions. Using the dwell principle, whereby you 'hover' over something long enough, you can accomplish all the functions on the floating palette (pictured above), within any software
More information about Smart Click