A Double Take on the Double Click

Author: Róisín Lynch, Senior Occupational Therapist, Enable Ireland Cork Children’s Services.

Cursor clipart arrow lines coming out  from its point Created by Miss Jannes from Noun Project

If someone experiences a challenge when double clicking, it can have a widespread impact on access to a range of applications. So often, when someone has challenges with this task, sometimes we jump straight in with alternate mice or specialist devices. I am writing this blog post to serve as a wee reminder to us all, myself included, to consider the “Task” (in this case, double clicking either with a mouse or a touchscreen) and see if we can adapt that before reaching for the trackball or that eye-gaze camera.

Factors to Consider:

Personal Factors

  • Is the user well supported posturally in their seating/standing when using their mouse/the touch screen?
  • Can the user see the icons to click them? Does the icon size/colour contrast need to be considered further and possibly adjusted?
  • If the user has limited upper limb function, are the mouse/device and the icons on screen located in a way that optimises access? Can their upper limb be better supported through positioning/orthosis?
  • Can the person see/feel the difference between right and left click on their standard mouse? Adding a sticker to left click can provide a visual and tactile reminder.

Environmental Factors

  • Where is the mouse located relative to the person? Consider non-traditional options; why not position the mouse on the left? Is the joystick in the way (or could the joystick be used as a mouse instead)?
  • What surface is the mouse resting on? Is it too resistant or not resistant enough?

Device Factors

(NB: Accessibility options will vary across operating systems. Consider not just the “Accessibility” menu but all areas of the device settings).

  • Button Configuration- would it help to swap the functions of the right and left buttons on the mouse?
  • Adjust the double click speed: the speed at which one has to perform the second click can be adjusted (I have seen cases where adjusting this alone has allowed someone to move from a “specialist” to standard mouse).
  • Click Lock: if clicking and dragging is tricky (this adjustment is not so handy for double clicking).
  • Pointer settings: is the pointer too small/large? Is the colour of sufficient contrast? Is the pointer moving too slowly?
  • If the person types reasonably well, could they consider learning some keyboard shortcuts, or use of the arrow buttons and “Enter” to select (it won’t work for every scenario, but handy when word processing).
  • Touch screen accommodations: such as ignoring multiple taps so that the user must hold an on-screen button for a certain length of time before it is activated or activating the last item touched (activating upon the lift rather than the touch). Use of a touch screen requires good upper limb stability and movement against gravity (depending on the screen position). Some users find clicking and dragging, and right click functions a little more challenging without a mouse. Touch screens are available as standard on most mobile phones and they are becoming more common (and thus cheaper) on personal devices such as tablets and laptops. The prices for these vary greatly due to operating system, screen size and memory.  A laptop with touch screen will inevitably be more expensive than one without and this can be a significant issue if applying for funding. 
  • Voice Control: depending on the operating system, the option of a voice control or voice activated assistant may be available. These could be used instead of a “(double)click” to access the desired application.

It is important to clearly document any settings adjusted and share with them with the user and their family/carers (if applicable) so they can replicate any adjustments on other devices used or purchased in future. Remember, accessibility options will vary across operating systems and users may need support adapting more than one device. Checking first whether inbuilt accessibility options address this or any other access issue will save time, effort and money and find a more suitable solution in the long run. It’s always worth that “double take”.

Further useful links

Mouse settings Windows 10

Mouse setting iOS

Touchscreen settings Microsoft

Touch accommodations for iOS

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