Monday, March 3, 2014

Mouse Emulators

As we just learned, there are many keyboard alternatives that help students with disabilities gain computer access.  Those students who have poor fine motor control benefit from keyboard alternatives, just as those students who have difficulty with fine motor control or have vision impairments or blindness would benefit from the use of a mouse emulator, or mouse alternative.  

  • A regular computer mouse must be moved across a horizontal surface, while a trackball remains in one place.  In order to move this mouse pointer, a ball which is stationed in the base, is rotated leaving the mouse pointer to move in response to the rotation of the ball.  

  • Similar to trackballs, joysticks have a stationary base, however instead of a ball, joysticks have a moveable handle that is perpendicular. The handles do not need to be moved very far in order to direct the mouse pointer on the computer screen.  Joysticks are a great resource for students who have physical disabilities and/or have limited control of their fingers and hands. 

Touch Screens
  • Touch screens, or touch windows, "provide computer input by a direct touch to the computer monitor" (Dell, 2012).  Touch screens can be found in a variety of places, including ATM's, smart phones, and iPads.  They are a great way to interact with the computer and benefit those individuals with physical disabilities, as well as poor fine motor control.  

Head-Pointing Systems
  • Much like headsticks and mouthsticks that were discussed previously, "head-controlled devices can be used to position the mouse pointer and access all mouse functions" (Dell, 2012).  Like a standard mouse, the head-pointing system requires the student to execute a left-click, right-click and/or double click, however these are done through the use of wearable components, rather than the student clicking with their fingers.  In order to use this system, students must be capable of moving their heads, as a result, this form of mouse alternative would NOT be beneficial for those students with cerebral palsy. 

Eye-Gaze System
  • "Eye-gaze systems track the movements of students' eyes to direct the mouse pointer" (Dell, 2012).  Many eye-gaze systems provide on-screen keyboards that the user looks at to select letters, words, or computer functions.  "Using eye movement to direct the mouse pointer can provide computer access for people who have no reliable muscle movements except good voluntary control over their eyes" (Dell, 2012).  This system would benefit students with muscular dystrophy, spinal muscular atrophy, high-level spinal cord injuries, or brainstem strokes. 


Dell, A.G., Newton, D.A., Petroff, J.G. (2012).  Assistive Technology in the Classroom; Enhancing the School Experiences of Students with Disabilities. 2nd Edition. 

1 comment:

  1. Lauren,
    I love how your incorporated pictures of each device. This allowed me to have a better understanding of the technology being discussed. I think its great to research and learn about the different types of assisted technology students can use, and the disabilities that would benefit greatly from them! Great job! I am loving your blog posts!!