In the past few days, a lot of people have been asking me about choosing a computer mouse with low vision and how to make computer mice accessible for vision impairment. Even though I use a lot of touchscreen devices, it’s important for me to have a computer mouse that I can use and see on the screen. Here are my tips for choosing a computer mouse with low vision and how to make computer mice accessible for vision impairment.
While I’m sure that there are some that do, most people with no usable vision do not use a computer mouse. This is because they can’t see the on-screen cursor or scan for items on the screen. Instead, they use a screen reader and keyboard shortcuts when navigating a computer, or use a gesture-based mobile screen reader such as VoiceOver.
One of my friends was trying to find a way to distinguish between the left and right side of their mouse since they often get the different sides confused. I suggested that they make the two sides different colors so that it could improve contrast. Another option would be to add tactile labels or a way to feel the difference between the two sides.
Some examples of ways you can make the left and right side of your mouse different colors and textures include:
These materials are highly unlikely to damage your computer mouse, and many provide both color and texture contrast.
There are many different adaptive computer mice that can be used to help people with low vision and other motor difficulties. For example, one of the computers in my Modeling and Simulation class has a mouse with large left/right keys and a large trackball in the center, which allows me to move the cursor on the screen without having to move my hand.
Some examples of adaptive computer mice include:
While I can adapt well to using just about any computer mouse hardware, I dislike using flat computer mice that have no curve, or computer mice that feel flimsy in my hand. Here are some examples of things to consider when choosing a computer mouse:
A lot of my friends use their laptop as their primary computer and prefer to use the mouse trackpad that is built-in to their computer. Here’s why they prefer using it:
While many of my friends do enjoy using their computer’s mouse trackpad, here’s some other friends who made the case for using an external mouse:
No matter what their hardware preferences were, my friends all agreed that having software accessibility settings enabled is critical for being able to use a mouse.
Once you choose your computer mouse, it’s important to configure accessibility settings for low vision to ensure you can use the computer mouse. I do this by going to the Ease of Access Center and selecting the option for making my computer mouse easier to see. Here are the accessibility settings I have for my computer mouse on my Windows 10 computer:
For students with vision impairments or multiple disabilities, it’s important for them to have access to a computer mouse for vision impairment that they can use with ease. After all, having access to technology can dramatically change a student’s life. By knowing important items to consider when choosing a computer mouse, it will be easy to start learning or improving important computer skills.