The mouse is dead? We killed it years ago!
I'm sure many Ouch readers took an interest in the BBC News story Say goodbye to the computer mouse, as many disabled people are ahead of the curve having binned their mice years ago for far more futuristic input technology! Ouch reader Martin Wildman wrote into us with his own take:
I am a quadriplegic who is completely paralysed from the neck down and I use my computer with a Smartnav baseball cap which allows me to move the mouse cursor, as well as some voice recognition.
Saying that computer mouse is obsolete is very narrow minded. It seems amazing to me that the computer expert from Gartner has no idea that some people might find a normal computer difficult to use. This means he is not even considering people with disabilities.
Martin's is just one example of the range ingenious ways in which disabled people are already using a computer, often without the traditional mouse, keyboard or monitor anywhere to be seen. A feat which makes the fuss around the Nintendo Wii and gaming headsets seem positively retro by comparison.
But whatever you think of the humble mouse, a new force is silently tapping and sliding its way into our lives and provoking strong views from many disabled people, as Martin continues:
It makes me laugh when people say that everybody prefers a touchscreen interface. I don't! Mainly because I can't use one! Anybody like me could in practice have a problem even getting near to a computer screen, let alone touching one.
and hear lies the rub of it (excuse the pun.)
The touchscreen, however trendy, is not an accessible option for many people, who prefer or depend on the real click, audible clunk and consistency of devices with real buttons. But with the rise of the iphone, Nintendo DS and other touchscreen gizmos, we may find ourselves, rather than grabbing the latest thing, clinging to the last devices using this seemingly out of fashion technology. Going from cutting edge to luddite in one smooth multi-touch gestured stroke! Now if you'll excuse me I'm off to start a 'Save the Buttons' group on Facebook. Who's with me?