Sunday, April 22, 2012

Using a Joystick as the Mouse

There are many options for alternative mouse hardware.  In earlier posts both a head mouse and a trackball mouse have been explored.  What about a joystick mouse?


Traditionally, a joystick has been associated with gaming devices.  In addition to gaming, a there are joystick mice available that can be very helpful for individuals with both physical and cognitive disabilities. 


The standard mouse that comes with a desktop computer can be very challenging for people with various impairments.  The movements required for effective mouse use can be very difficult.  How many times have you had to lift up the mouse and place it back down to get your pointer back on the screen where you can see it?  What if the user has upper extremity weakness from a stroke or tremors from Parkinson's?  How do you think this would affect their mouse function? 


It can also be difficult for individuals to understand the cause and effect of the types of movements required to move the mouse that translate to the movements of the pointer on the screen.  This can make the mouse extremely difficult for the user with cognitive impairments.


The use of a joystick mouse can eliminate these problems.  With a joystick mouse the movements seem more intuitive than with a standard mouse.  For example, if press the joystick up, the pointer moves up.  Many hardware options can include alternative methods for clicking as well as the shape and size of the joystick itself.  This can assist people with grasp issues by having the flexibility to change the joystick top.  




The joystick mouse pictured above comes with interchangeable joystick top options as well as buttons for double click, single click, right click, lock, and speed changes.  The accessibility of the buttons can create increased ease of use.   


In addition, if access of any joystick buttons are a challenge, any ability switch can be used for click features.  This can be plugged directly into the joystick mouse, dependent on the model, or with the "swifty" USB adapter for ability switches.  Dwell click software (discussed in an earlier post) can also be used for click needs.


There are joystick mice that are not only geared towards individuals with disabilities but people that require a more ergonomic computer workstation setup.  


The mouse pictured above will hold the users hand in an ergonomic position in an attempt to decrease or eliminate repetitive strain injuries.  The right and left click is performed by the thumb positioned at the top of the joystick.  Again, if clicking is an issue, ability switches or dwell click software can be used.


Additionally, software can be used to "turn" any USB joystick into a mouse.  The software acts as a driver, interpreting joystick movements into mouse movements to move the pointer. 




Always remember that changes in the control panel might still be required to facilitate independence with any adaptive mouse hardware or software.  With the appropriate adaptations, the mouse does not have to be a challenge for a wide range of individuals, helping to create an adaptABLE world!   


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