Standard computer mice come in all shapes and sizes but are similar in needing to be rolled around a portion of your desk. They need to be held in one position while the button is pressed. As a result, they pose many problems for people with disabilities. Making Use of the Keyboard In Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems, the keyboard can be used to perform most of the functions of a mouse. For example, menus can be activated and text selected by simple keystrokes such as Alt + F and Shift + right arrow. In our How to guides, we include keyboard alternative for almost every mouse action.

Adjusting the Way the Mouse Behaves Just as it is possible to modify the keyboard response, it is also possible to change the way the mouse behaves. Your operating system should allow you to change the speed of the mouse, adjust the amount of time needed for double-clicking, and swap the functions of the buttons for left-handed use. Depending on the type of mouse you have, you may also be able to customize other features, such as:

• changing the acceleration of the mouse pointer

• forcing it to only move horizontally and vertically

• changing the functions of the available buttons (and scroll wheel) For more information, see the

Drag Lock Many programmes require you to ‘drag and drop’ pictures or text from one place to another. When doing this, you need to move over the item, press and hold the mouse button down, move to the new location and release the button. This can be difficult for people with disabilities. A useful feature to get around this problem is ‘drag lock’. With this feature, you simply move over the item, click (i.e. press and release a button), move to the new location, and click the same button again to release the item.

The drag lock feature is available on many pointing devices. It can be an additional button on the device that always works as a drag lock, or it can be a button that you can set up to be a drag lock by customising the settings in your operating system.

Different Kinds of Mice It is often worth trying a few different mice as they can have radically different sizes and shapes (as illustrated by just the two examples below), and require varying amounts of pressure on the buttons. Mice are available from a variety of retailers, including suppliers of ergonomic workspaces and specialists in accessibility-related products.

Vertical Mouses & Trackballs

A trackball is basically an upturned mouse. Whereas you roll a mouse on the table top, a trackball is a static device; the ball on the top is moved using fingers, thumbs and palms. Larger trackballs are often suitable for operating by foot. PC Track Logitech marble mouse Kensington Expert Mouse Pro Wireless Trackball Joysticks These types of devices work in a similar manner to joystick controls on a wheelchair.

The mouse pointer moves fastest when the joystick is pushed fully forward. The joystick illustrated has a built-in guard and has a drag lock button and a button which sends a double-click.

TouchPads These devices are often found built into laptops but are available as standalone input devices. They are stationary pads, which are operated by sliding your finger across the surface. Clicking can be done with buttons or by tapping lightly on the surface. They can be held in the hand or placed on a desk.

Cruise Cat Pen Devices These are held in the hand like a pen and come in two basic forms:

• A device that acts in a similar manner to a mouse: you move it and a small ball rotates, moving your pointer in that direction (relative movement).

• A device that you move on a tablet: the tablet represents the screen area, so if you touch the center of the tablet your cursor or mouse pointer will be in the center of the screen. These tend to be called graphics tablets. They are widely used for drawing – larger-sized tablets are used for more detailed work. Screen-Based Ideas:

Touch Screens, Light Pens With these, selections and movements are made by pointing at the screen surface. Touch screens act in the same way as a standard screen but have sensitive surfaces. It is also possible to put a ‘Touch Window’ over the front of a standard monitor to give the same function.

Touch screens are one of the key features of computer tablets such as the Apple iPad and increasing numbers of smartphones. A light pen works in a similar way, but you need to hold a pen and point it at the screen.

Using Head Movement With this system, the pointer is moved across the screen simply by moving your head slightly. It works well with on-screen keyboards. Usually, a switch is used to perform the equivalent of a mouse click.

Author's Bio: 

Hello, my name is Karen Cole 40 years-old woman, living in Philadelphia, United States. I am the founder and editor-in-chief of the HealthBenefitAdmin online magazine and I am responsible for the published content that would help my precious readers to live as happily, healthily and sustainability as possible.