Software helps people with disabilities use computer mouse

Americas, April 9 2011

SEATTLE, Apr 09: U.S. computer scientists say a free software program can help people with motor disabilities who have trouble using a computer mouse.

The Pointing Magnifier, developed by researchers at the University of Washington, combines a large area cursor with visual and motor magnification, reducing need for fine, precise pointing, a university release said Friday.

Running on Windows, the software replaces the normal cursor with a large, circular cursor the user places over the target area of the screen and then clicks. The Pointing Magnifier then magnifies everything under that circular area until it fills the screen, making even tiny targets large. The user then clicks with a point cursor inside that magnified area, acquiring the target.

Although the Pointing Magnifier requires two clicks, it’s much easier to use than a conventional mouse, which can require many clicks for someone with a motor disability to connect with a small target.

“It’s less expensive to create computer solutions for people who have disabilities if you focus on software rather than specialized hardware, and software is usually easier to procure than hardware,” said Jacob O. Wobbrock, an assistant professor in the university’s Information School.


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