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Comment Try some Assistive Technology (Score 5, Informative) 100

Fine motor control? So gross is okay, can move arms or legs in a big way, but not fine finger movement? The general term is "Assistive Technology".

Use built-in system adaptations: change mouse sensitivity, keyboard repeat rate, use the numeric keypad to move the mouse. See Control Panel > Ease of Access Center in Windows. "Make the mouse easier to use" and "Make the keyboard easier to use". http://www.microsoft.com/enabl...

Tremors? http://www.steadymouse.com/ to dampen mouse movement.

Move the mouse using a trackball, can't click? Dwell clicker. http://sensorysoftware.com/mor...

Could move a game controller or joystick, not the mouse? JoyToKey http://www.oneswitch.org.uk/2/...

Can move head? Cameramouse, http://cameramouse.org/

Not use a keyboard? Probably up to using an "on-screen keyboard" and "switching". There's an OSK in Windows, 7 and later is OK, before then not so good. Many others, The Grid 2 is probably the best. http://sensorysoftware.com/gri.... You'll find at this point that everything is starting to look very "special needs" - the market usually addresses people with cognitive as well as physical problems, and starts to get called "AAC". But the technology is in there. You might also want to check out switching with an iPad/iPhone - recent iOS releases have fantastic switching capacity built in. Proloquo2Go is the most famous iOS app. It's expensive for an app, but it's dirt cheap compared to dedicated hardware solutions (like Stephen Hawking stuff)

Operate one control only? http://www.webbie.org.uk/onesw...

In the USA? Try finding your state's Assistive Technology Resource Center. In the UK? ACE Centre is good, http://acecentre.org.uk/.

Key thing: usually people put off acquiring and learning to use the technology until it is too late, because it's too depressing. The medical channels for getting this stuff are often slow (at least in my country, the UK) so if your friend has a progressive, degenerative disease, you might be best going with something you can get right away and is not too off-putting - if you get an iPad and use that, you can get it right now and it doesn't have as much stigma as an obviously medical device. Many of these conditions have a very limited lifespan, so you need to get something soon if it's going to be useful.

It's also worth noting that switching is really slow and painful for someone who is used to normal usage, and that the role of the main carer/partner is essential in successful adoption of this kind of technology.

(Quick whirlwind notes from a technical rather than medical guy, excuse any slightly-off nomenclature. And your friend might just need to adjust her Windows settings, and I've leapt to much more "advanced" systems than she needs - but you don't think a trackball will cut it, and she's clearly been normal up to now, so I'm thinking the worst...)

Comment Free face-tracking software for Windows (Score 1) 67

We do a similar piece of software that tracks your face movement: it's free, and you can get it from http://www.facemouse.co.uk/

Install (Windows only), run, position your head facing ahead at the webcam, and then move the mouse around by turning and raising/lowering your head. There are two versions, one that click automatically when you stop moving your head and one that doesn't (so you can use another dwell program of your choice.)

Comment Re:Helped their evolution (Score 1) 216

evolution by definition increases the survivability of the species.

That's not correct. Biology is full of species that have evolved to fill particular niches, like the panda or flightless birds on islands. When the niche disappears the species becomes extinct. So evolution is perfectly capable of reducing survivability, depending on the timescale you're measuring and the area you're studying. Generalists survive, then specialise into the new, vacant niches in their local environment.

Comment Accessibility: two simple suggestions. (Score 2, Interesting) 882

Looks great - to me, with good vision. But can't Slashdot seize the opportunity to improve the accessibility of the site for blind fellow geeks?

Looking at the HTML, here's two really simple things that would really help:

  1. A skip links link at the very top of the page code: there are long, long stretches of forms and links to plough through if you can't see the main content in the center of the screen and have to go through it line by line.
  2. Use the LABEL elements properly: they're not for layout as such, they're for indicating what bit of text is associated with with form element. They're used in some places - but they're broken! What's the point of getting rid of tables ("They're, like, confusing content and presentation!") and then using broken CSS (FIELDSET elements with blank LEGEND child elements and unattached LABEL elements used, erm, for presentation)?

I develop a free web browser for blind people called WebbIE) but I think these suggestions would help JAWS and WindowEyes screenreader users, IBM Homepage Reader users and everyone with non-visual browsers. How about it? Show everyone how it should be done!

The confusion of a staff member is measured by the length of his memos. -- New York Times, Jan. 20, 1981