The Great Mouse Hunt

by Barbara and Jim Twardowski, R.N. on May 1, 2004 - 4:16pm

Using a mouse doesn't have to be a drag. Consumers are demanding computer peripherals be ergonomically designed, stationary (can be used in small spaces) and cordless (reducing desktop clutter).

MDA  Matters
The 3-inch BIGtrack trackball from InfoGrip makes mouse movements easy for those with limited fine motor control.
MDA Matters
Tash's large joystick with pad features five switches for computer input. An adapter is required to attach it to a computer.
MDA Matters
The mouth-operated IntegraMouse is an alternative for those with no use of hands.
MDA Matters
The Tracker from Madentec sits atop the computer monitor and tracks a dot on the users forehead or eyeglasses.
MDA Matters
The orbiTouch Keyless Keyboard from Keybowl requires no movement in the hands or fingers. Users slide domes into a variety of positions for typing.

The good news for computer users with disabilities is that the variety of mouse alternatives on the market is growing and in many cases the prices are dropping. Depending upon your physical needs and your budget, dozens of choices are available.

Here's a small sampling of mouse alternatives.

Ergonomic mice

Ergonomic mice allow your hand to form a more natural shape. As a consequence they're usually much easier to hold and more comfortable to use.

Trackballs and rollerballs

A trackball, also called a rollerball, is a stationary upside-down mouse. (The size of the ball varies.) Rather than moving the mouse on the tabletop, the trackball remains in one place and is moved using fingers, thumbs or palms.

For people with limited fine motor ability, a trackball with a larger ball may be useful. The Kensington Expert Mouse trackball software allows users to customize the cursor acceleration and mouse button choices, and to launch programs simply by pressing one button. The built-in friendly reminder notifies you to take a break after 30 minutes.

RollerMouse

The RollerMouse by Contour Design places the mouse cursor control just below the keyboard spacebar to enable working faster and safer. (No more reaching across the desk to maneuver the mouse.) With a single finger, you control the cursor with a rollerbar a smooth sliding metal bar coated with soft rubber.

Touchpads

Touchpads can be placed on your desk or held in your hand. The mouse is moved by sliding your finger across the pad. You can click with buttons or by tapping lightly on the surface. Cirque Easy Cat's usable surface area is 23/8 inches by 13/4 inches.

Joysticks

A joystick can be used to move the cursor and requires a smaller range of motion than a standard mouse. A mouth-operated joystick is controlled by the mouth and clicking can be achieved by bite, puff or sip switches.

Touchscreens

With a touchscreen, selections are made by touching the screen surface. Touchscreens are either built into monitors or come as separate touch windows placed in front of a standard monitor to give the same function.

Head mice

Head-operated mice use a dot (usually placed on the forehead, eyeglasses or a hat) that reflects infrared signals to a control device on the computer monitor. NaturalPoint SmartNAV gives hands-free control of a cursor with simple head movement for an affordable price.

Big keys

Extra-large keys are a simple step up from regular keyboards. Greystone Digital's BigKeys LX allows use with one hand, one finger or a pointer.

Happy hunting

Start your search at www.abilityhub.com for detailed descriptions of mouse alternatives and product links provided by Assistive Technology Practitioner Dan Gilman.

No site covers all the mouse alternatives available, so keep looking.

The perfect mouse solution is only a click away.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (4 votes)
MDA cannot respond to questions asked in the comments field. For help with questions, contact your local MDA office or clinic or email publications@mdausa.org. See comment policy