The traditional way of controlling a pointer on the computer is by using a mouse. But many people struggle to use the standard mouse with its standard settings. This doesn't only apply to people with severe physical difficulties associated with conditions like Cerebral Palsy, but also to milder conditions that can produce slight tremors or make clicking difficult.
If you are able to use, and are comfortable using, a standard mouse then its worth sticking with it. Being able to use a regular mouse means that you can sit down at any computer and get on with things without needing to carry your own specialist hardware.
If overused, a mouse can cause terrible pain and even permanent damage in the wrists, arms, shoulder or neck. In addition to the standard mouse there are plenty of specialist ergonomic mice that come in all shapes and sizes which may help relieve this problem. You can also use a compact keyboard to allow the mouse to be positioned correctly. The best solution in my opinion, however, is to reduce overall mouse use by using the keyboard to access menus and common functions.
If you struggle to physically get to grips with a mouse then it is worth playing with Windows' mouse accessibility options. These allow you to alter the speed of the pointer, access to single clicks, double clicks, dragging, swapping the buttons and enabling dwell delay.
There are some alternative mice that are particularly useful in the field of SEN. Most younger pupils will not have hands big enough to grasp a full size mouse correctly and should therefore consider using a mouse designed for younger people.
Another great idea is to give a pupil a mouse that is fun to look at and motivating to use. Some great products have been released recently including the Ladybird mini mouse available from Research Machines .
This is a cutting edge technology and there are four or five companies working in competition. The idea is that a user only needs to look at an area of a screen and that area will be selected. This technology is pushing forward fast so keep an eye on it (pun intended!).
There are loads and loads of motivating activities designed to practice or assess pointer control, such as the MouseSkills program available from Inclusive Technology . I'll be venturing into this area shortly, so stay tuned!
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