I recently came across two “new” Windows programs when exploring ideas for adding extra control to a roller mouse. The search had started while we’d be looking to adapt an employee’s workplace. In her case, she had a simple request to continue to use her roller mouse – liking the feel and its movement – but she found the “lift” from the roller to click more of a challenge to carry out – particularly over long periods of use.
The first challenge was a quick one to resolve as there’s a number of well-established supports available to automate the mouse click. Programs such as Point N Click Virtual Mouse and Dwell Clicker 2 are well known and a little more polished. However, in the end, we settled on a program with a small presence on the screen called MetaClick.
The good: It’s free, easy to set up and control the “look”, straight forward layout.
Areas for improvement: Appearance looks dated, lacks the ability to move on-screen buttons to preferred areas.
The second challenge, in this case, related to the “orientation” of the roller mouse. The User found her control to be improved over longer periods when her mouse roller was rotated by 1800 on her countertop. This one was a little trickier to resolve but in the end, an old “prank” program called Sakasa Mouse – software which reverses the direction of the cursor movement – came to the rescue for her.
The good: It’s free, separate settings can be set for the X and the Y mouse planes, simple configuration.
for improvement: No support,hasn’t been updated for
several years, “jumpy” mouse movement evident on occasions.
Single handed typing tutor and instruction – for free.
Doorwayonline.org.uk is a website from a Scottish charity called the Doorway Accessible Software Trust. It consists of a number of free software programs designed for literacy and numeracy development and also, an online typing tutor designed specifically for individuals who would like to learn to touch type on a Full Qwerty keyboard (Upper case, UK layout) with either their left or right hand.
It has a number of features which should be noted before beginning to use this program;
1. It can be customised for individuals with a visual impairment with options to increase the keyboard size to full screen, increase the individual font size, add voice feedback for key hits and use alternative highlighting options for keys.
2. It offers two different home row locations for both Left and Right hand users. This can be useful if one position was more comfortable over the other but it can present some challenging positions for smaller hands
3. There’s no option to save or record your progress – a feature in most typing tutors. The program is split into 56 lessons which requires the user to remember their previous point when returning to their work.
4. Mouse control is required to activate a number of the options and also when setting it up – every time.
5. It has a simple clean look to it consisting of a white background and various coloured keys.
6. It contains no information on safe access to keyboarding for typists and offers no detail about available posture supports or alternative keyboards.
To begin with your typing programme;
• Navigate to www.doorwayonline.org.uk in your web Browser
• Select Typing and Touch Typing from the list.
• Select Single Handed Typing. Note that this area also contains instruction for a two handed touch-handed typing tutor as well!
• Click on the Enter option to start and customise your preferred layout
The program consists of 56 lessons divided into core areas of work such as;
• Home Row (4 levels)
• Letters (16 levels)
• Symbols, words and then sentences.
Lessons vary in length/duration .
Finally, it is important to note that this software does not provide any extra information on what alternative keyboards are available or on the appropriate posture related supports for single handed typists. These are crucial areas which can significantly enhance a user’s keyboard access in a safe manner and should be explored before beginning any journey in learning to touch-type.