Additional input solutions to support dexterity and mobility difficulties

Touch Screen – Pros and Cons

There tends to be a standard input on smartphones and tablets that provides text and graphic output with high resolution output that can be adjusted to present enlarged menus in high contrast mode or enlarged fonts.  It is also possible to increase the size of the controls on the screen (e.g. buttons) using magnification or zoom, so that people with motor, dexterity and mobility disabilities are able to tap on larger sized icons.  But the level of sensitivity of the screen can be hard to adapt to suit those with poor dexterity or poor feeling in the finger tips. They may need physical buttons.

Have you also noticed that the on screen keyboard may not change in size when accessed with the zoom option enabled or if it does change how hard it is to move to the edit box?

It may be easier for some users with dexterity and/or mobility difficulties to use speech input or speech/voice recognition.

Speech Input on Mobile Devices from MOOCAP on Vimeo.

Short cuts, pointers and speed dialling.

Ideas that can support poor dexterity and mobility difficulties:

  • Predictive text to help enter messages with fewer keystrokes.
  • Pointers controlled by mouth or head movements.
  • On-screen keyboard with Bluetooth trackball, joysticks, or other pointing devices.
  • Switches operated by foot, shoulder, sip-and-puff, or other movements.
  • Eye tracking, and other approaches for hands-free interaction.
  • Ergonomic or specially designed keyboard or pointing devices.
  • Speed dialling or one-touch dialling enables users to dial a number at the touch of a button.
  • Pre-set text messages allow the user a number of standard text messages that they can reuse.

However these types of access do not suit all users and some people depend on switches to access both computers and mobile technologies.  Switch users access all the elements on a phone and the content by using scanning techniques.

Switch Access Scanning on MobileDevices from MOOCAP on Vimeo.

If you’d like to experience onscreen scanning, try this Doorway Online ‘Find the Pairs’ game using your keyboard, mouse or switch access. Toggle on the scanning, single switch and set the speed.

* Please note: this is a children’s picture memory game developed using Adobe Flash and is therefore not screen reader accessible.

Did you find it easy or quite frustrating?

Watch out for these barriers

  • Apps failing to support alternative input and output devices.
  • Focus that is not clearly indicated.
  • Links or form objects that have a small target area.
  • Redirects to another page or page element triggered solely by changing values in a dropdown box.
  • Insufficient time limits to respond or to complete tasks, such as filling out forms.


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