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Search results for the Tag keyword: mouse
By Allan Wilson on Thursday 27th October, 2011 at 5:03pm
Some people struggle to use a standard mouse on a computer, so various alternatives have been devised over the years, including track balls, joysticks and trackpads. The CALL Loan Bank of Equipment and Resources includes many examples of these alternatives. Additional funding from the Scottish Government recently gave us an opportunity to update and expand our stock of equipment for people who "hate those meeces to pieces"! Here's information about some of the new devices that we now have available for loan:
Single Button Mouse
Teachers of young pupils with additional support needs sometimes come to us looking for a solution to suit a pupil who keeps hitting the right-button of a PC mouse, by accident or design, potentially causing major disruption to an activity. There are various solutions, including 'surgery' to remove the micro-switch beneath the right-button, and various software solutions to disable the button. These can be awkward if different people use the computer and some want to be able to access the right-button. In the past we would sometimes recommend the use of a Mac mouse (the original iMac mouse was particularly suitable) as they only have one button, but in recent years the Mac mouse has become more complicated with the addition of a scroll button and other features. The Chester Single Button Mouse is a simple, small mouse with a single button, designed specifically for young children who can benefit from a simplified mouse. It has a USB connector which allows it to be quickly plugged into the computer and removed when no longer required.
A trackball can be seen as an 'upside down' mouse, with the ball on the top of a solid base. The ball is usually moved by the fingers or the hand, though it can be moved by whichever part of the body the user is best able to control it with. The most frequently borrowed trackball that we have is the KidTRAC / MaxTRAC. The KidTRAC has coloured coordinated buttons, including a 'drag lock' button which makes it easier to move objects about on the computer screen. It is possible to replace all or any single button with a switch to separate the 'cursor movement' and 'button press' activities, reducing frustration for many users with poor motor control. We purchased additional units with USB connectors to increase their availability.
We have also added a BIGtrack and the IT Roll Starter Pack to the Loan Bank. The BIGtrack is an upgraded version of the old KidTrack, now incorporating sockets allowing switches to be used in place of its buttons. It has a large (3" diameter) ball and is aimed at young children.The IT Roll is a wireless trackball, with accompanying receiver, which would be particularly suitable for use with an interactive whiteboard.
A joystick can be a useful alternative to the mouse, particularly as many children are used to using (or seeing) a joystick to control a wheelchair or a computer game. (Note that you can't use a 'games' joystick to replace a mouse without a lot of fiddling with specialist software.) A number of specialist joysticks are available. The one that we have found most popular in the past is the Roller Joystick II, so we've added a couple to the Loan Bank. It comes with a choice of handles - a standard joystick, a T-bar, or a sponge ball.
We've added an Optima Joystick and a Mini PointIt joystick to the Loan Bank. The Optimax is a wireless joystick, similar to the Roller Joystick, though with a lower profile. The Mini PointIt is a small, accurate joystick, suitable for somebody with limited movement, but fine motor control.
Digitising Pad / Tablet
The digitising pad is a device with a smooth reactive surface that can be used to control the mouse pointer by finger (like the pad on most laptops) or with a finger. Finger control can be suitable for someone with limited movement, while the use of a stylus can sometimes help a person with RSI-related conditions arising from overuse of a mouse. The Wacom Bamboo Fun Pen and Touch Tablet can be used with either a finger or a stylus.
This article has focused on some of the new additions to the CALL Loan Bank. Go to the CALL Equipment Bank and search for 'Mouse or Alternative' to see some of the other options that we have available. If you are looking to find out about commercial options currently available, we suggest looking at the Inclusive Technology, QED and Keytools web sites.
Using the CALL Equipment Bank
The CALL Loan Bank contains a wide range of equipment that can be used to support the communication needs of people with disabilities. Equipment available for loan includes:
- simple communication aids
- complex communication aids (note that in some cases these can only be borrowed if adequate speech therapy support is available for the loan)
- switches, interfaces and mounting systems
- specialist mouse and keyboard alternatives
- reading and writing aids
- switch-accessible toys
Loans are made for evaluation purposes and generally last for up to two months. There is no charge for loans. Most loans are made to Scottish schools for use by pupils with additional support needs, but the loan bank can also be used to support adults with disabilities in the community in Scotland. Further information is available in the Equipment Bank section of this web site.
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By Paul Nisbet on Wednesday 12th May, 2010 at 5:05pm
Weve been looking at methods of computer access for a young boy (age 7) with athetoid cerebral palsy, and hes evaluated quite a few options. The most promising method was an old Interface Designs switched joystick connected via a USB Mouse Mover interface, which he controls with his right hand. He clicks with a head switch. Billy (not his real name) has been using this in school since January 2009 and he is now an expert: he can write using Clicker (both with a word bank and an on-screen keyboard); he can draw and paint with 2Simple Paint; he can access the internet; he can get navigate folders, use the Start menu to start programs, choose menu items, and adjust settings. I'm not quite sure how he manages it, but he does, and very quickly and accurately too.
The problem with this joystick is its no longer made, so I wanted to find an alternative that we could actually buy. Most joysticks are not like this one though - most are smaller, analogue (i.e. the more you push the stick, the faster the mouse pointer moves), and ungated.
So why does this stick work for him compared to, say, a Roller Joystick, which doesnt, at all? I think there are three reasons:
- The joystick is large and clunky with a gate – slots for forward, back, left and right. Billy has difficulty with fine motor control which means the Roller Joystick is almost impossible, whereas he can push the Interface Designs stick in the correct approximate direction and then the gate guides it into place.
- The stick has a long handle which he manages with relatively gross movements.
- The Mousemover interface has adjustable acceleration, which means the longer Billy pushes the stick, the faster the mouse pointer moves. This gives him really very good accuracy by pushing the stick for a short time and then releasing it, yet also quick movement around the screen by holding the stick on.
A few weeks ago I made a plastic gate for a Roller Joystick and Billy tried it out. It was much, much better than an ungated Roller Joystick but still not quite as fast and accurate as the Interface Designs/MouseMover combination – mainly I think because there is no control over acceleration (the Roller moves at full speed because Billy cant do anything other than push it all the way).
Ive been involved with lots of people like Billy over the years who can successfully control a gated stick but who struggle with an ungated, standard analogue stick and so this blog is to remind us all that Gates are Good (and could manufacturers please offer gates for their joysticks and/or come up with something similar to the Interface Designs device.)