Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Do you that is?

What is dwell click software?

Dwell click software is a way to click the mouse without having to physically press the button or "clicker" on the actual hardware.  This is very important for individuals with a variety of physical impairments.  For example, if the user has a spinal cord injury and is accessing their computer through a head mouse, they would require this software to perform all click features.  Without it, they would only be able to move the mouse pointer but not be able to click.  This software enables the user to open items on the desktop, links, or just to click anything that a conventional mouse user would access by a button press.

This software not only can assist individuals with a lack of mobility but also those with coordination issues or pain.  If the user has pain in their finger when accessing the buttons on the mouse, the use of dwell click software would eliminate this pain.  

How does the software work?

When using this software, a toolbar is visible on the screen.  This toolbar provides all mouse click functions.  

Dependent on the program, the size of the toolbar can be modified.  Other modifications include the amount of time that the user has to "dwell" or "hover" over the item that they want to click on.  This can usually vary from .25 seconds to several seconds.  The dwell timing is very important; if the time is too short the user will perform unintended clicks.  If the dwell time is set too long, the user might have a hard time holding the pointer over the link or icon. 

When trialing this software, it is important to trial more than one version in addition to seeing can be modified in that particular program to meet the users needs.  

The use of this software can increase the level of independence of the individual for their computer access skills.  Its another way to create an adaptABLE world!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Mouse...head mouse that is...

The computer mouse is a very interesting device that was designed for accessing a computer.  A simple definition of the mouse can be found on wikipedia:

mouse is a pointing device that functions by detecting two-dimensional motion relative to its supporting surface. Physically, a mouse consists of an object held under one of the user's hands, with one or more buttons. It sometimes features other elements, such as "wheels", which allow the user to perform various system-dependent operations, or extra buttons or features that can add more control or dimensional input. The mouse's motion typically translates into the motion of a pointer on a display, which allows for fine control of a graphical user interface.  

A mouse comes standard with a desktop computer; laptops have the trackpad.  In working with individuals with varying disabilities, the mouse one of the biggest issues to independent computer use.  In the earlier posts, there is information on how control panel changes can assist with mouse use.  In addition that that, alternative hardware and software can be utilized for mouse skills as well.

If the user is experiencing poor gross or fine motor skills in either arm or lack of movement, they can still use a mouse.  One product that can be used if the person has no arm movement (as with a person with a spinal cord injury) is a head mouse.

The head mouse:

The head mouse is an input device that can be used by an individual with little or no arm movement.  The camera sits on top of your computer and follows a small shiny sticker that is placed on the forehead or a baseball cap of the user, moving the pointer.  

Essentially, the user moves his head, the pointer follows.  

How does the person click?

There two most common ways for clicking is either by switch use or dwell click software.  Many of the head mice on the market have ports for a switch to be plugged in.  The switch can be positioned or mounted to the area that is strongest.  This could be a finger, foot, elbow, etc.  The switches vary in size and amount of pressure that is required.

Another way to click is through dwell click software.  Dwell click software eliminated the need for a physical click.  This would be important for an individual that is unable to press the button due to pain, arthritis, stroke, spinal cord injury, just to name a few.

The user would move the pointer over the area they want clicked.  A pre-set time (which can be adjusted for the person) will be established, which can vary from .25 seconds to longer.  After the pointer is held there for the established time, the software will click for the user.  Many features can be adjusted with such software.  This can include the sensitivity or feedback for the dwell feature.    Not only can this software be used with a head mouse for clicking but with a conventional mouse if the user can move it but is unable to perform clicking.

Always keep in mind, there is never one way to use a mouse or access a computer.  The most important thing is to trial as many options as possible to see what is the best person for the user.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Cell Phone Adaptability

Often, when people think about cell phone accessibility, they think that if the phone has voice activation or recognition features, then its accessible.  Unfortunately, often a small button is required to initiate these voice features.  What is the user to do if they cannot access this button?

Switch Accessibility:

Through various hardware options, a switch can be added to a bluetooth for access.

The picture above shows an example of a switch adapted bluetooth.  Any ability switch can be plugged into the switch port.  The user would then access the switch (with the strongest area of their body) to answer a call, hang up a call, or dial (using the voice commands).  This eliminates the need to hit the small bluetooth button for voice command use.  It can also work fairly well with the Siri features of the iPhone 4S, for writing text messages and emails.

Voice Activation:

There are options with hardware that will enable full voice activation, without the requirement of pressing buttons.  

Through the use of voice commands, the user can dial and answer calls.  This device is a speakerphone which would limit the privacy for the user but still can enable independence.  The original intent for this device was for hands free calling when in a car but it can be adaptable for many individuals.

The thing to remember about all voice activated devices that they can never be 100% accurate.  These are devices, not people.  They cannot interpret what the user means if they say the wrong word or name.  Furthermore, if there is background noise it can affect the accuracy of the device.  

These devices can be very important to facilitate independence for individuals with varying disabilities.