Motor dexterity challenges of the upper extremities including arm, wrist, hand, and finger movement can have an impact on an individual's use of a keyboard and mouse to access a computer. For example, motor dexterity challenges can effect fine motor control and an individual's ability to hit small targets such as mouse buttons and keyboards keys. Hand tremors can effect an individual's ability to stabilize mouse control and accurately hit a target or can cause repeated and unintentional keystrokes and mouse clicks. The task of adapting a computer can be challenging. Before purchasing a computer or assistive devices it's important to identify how you are going to use the computer. One particularly good strategy is to try to find out about the experiences of other people with similar needs when researching potential solutions.
Joysticks - Can be hand or mouth controlled and don't require a lot of movement for operation. Mouth controlled options are typically used by people who have very limited to no upper extremity function. Hand controlled options work well for individuals with limited hand and wrist range of motion.
Track balls and touch pads - Both options work for people who need to keep the mouse in place and close to them. These devices can help with positioning and reducing hand and arm movements. Touchpads can also benefit people who have limited figure range of motion and challenges with operating the mouse click buttons
Eye gaze systems - Use cameras to track one or both eyes. These devices are often used by people with very limited or no upper extremity function. Good head posture is often required for consistent results.
Head Mice - Use an infrared camera to track a reflective dot placed on the user’s forehead, bridge of glasses, or brims of hats. This is another hands-free option for people with limited or no upper extremity function. People must have head control, stable posture, and range of motion in their neck to successfully operate the device.
Ergonomic - Can vary in style and flexibility for adjustment. These are designed to minimize awkward postures of the wrist when keying.
One handed - These are dedicated products designed specifically for individuals who have only one functional hand for keying. The design is often very different from a mainstream keyboard which can increase learning curve to obtain accuracy and speed.
Mini/compressed keyboards - These options have a smaller footprint and typically don’t have a 10-key pad. These can work for people who have limited space on their desk and/or need to have their mouse closer to their keyboard. One handed typists will often use these as an option instead of a dedicated one handed keyboard.
On screen/virtual - Are built into operating systems and can be used in conjunction with eye and head tracking systems so people with limited or no upper extremity function can input text.
Voice dictation - Can be built into operating systems or a dedicated software product. These products allow users to create text and control the mouse by voice. These products require an individual be able to edit text since the products will never spell a word incorrectly.
Allow individuals to preform external mouse clicks and are chosen depending on the user's method of activation. Switches can be positioned near the portion of the body where the individual has the most consistent use. Switches vary in sizes, materials, connectivity, and touch sensitivity.
These devices improve a user's physical access to keyboards and mice. Typing aids can be used with a hand, mouth, or head for individuals who have difficulty with fine motor control. Positioning aids improve ergonomics by moving keyboards and mice to within the user’s functional reach.