Some people use software and customized settings to enhance the efficiency of typing, writing, and clicking. For example, some people assign personalized shortcut keys to functions they frequently use. Some people use word prediction software to help complete words and sentences with minimal typing, grammar and spelling tools to help correct text, and tools to help click, select text, and scroll with minimal movement.
Digital content needs to be designed to support these different types of approaches. For example, forms, links, and other functionality need to be usable by keyboard. In particular, applications (“client-side scripting”), embedded media players, and other programmatic objects need to provide full keyboard support that does not trap the keyboard focus within the program and larger clickable areas for buttons and links.
Accessible content supports people who need more time typing, writing, and clicking, or are more likely to make mistakes. For instance, some people forget to select options and fill out form entries, misspell words and mistype data (such as dates), or unintentionally activate buttons and links. Accessible content also provides enough time to complete tasks, clear and helpful error messages and options for correcting input.
Examples of assistive technologies and adaptive strategies
- Accelerators – software and functionality that help reduce the effort needed to type or click. For example, by providing options to create shortcuts for commands or sequences of commands, by highlighting selection choices such as menu items, links, or options, and by helping to steer the mouse.
- Alternative keyboard and mouse – hardware and software primarily used by people with cognitive and physical disabilities to help interact with the computer. Examples include:
- Keyboards with larger keys, key labels, key spacing, illuminated keys, or custom layouts;
- On-screen keyboards, touch-screens, sip-and-puff switches, and single-key switches;
- Trackballs, joysticks, touchpads, specially designed mice, and other pointing devices;
- Speech recognition, eye tracking, and other approaches for hands-free interaction.
- Eye tracking (sometimes called “eye-gaze”) - a system that monitors eye movement to control the mouse pointer and detects blinking to initiate mouse clicks.
- Keyboard customization – includes changing the mapping of keys, assigning shortcut keys to functions, setting filters, and setting “sticky keys” to support single-handed typing.
- Keyboard and mouse filters – functions of the operating system or software tools that recognize and compensate for involuntary movements such as tremor and spasms.
- Mouse customization – includes changing the mapping of buttons, changing the sensitivity of the mouse towards movement, setting filters, and changing the size and appearance of the mouse pointer.
- On-screen keyboard – virtual keyboard displayed on a screen so that it can be used with a touchscreen, mouse, trackball, joystick, or other pointing devices.
- Speech recognition (sometimes called “speech input” or “voice command”) - software that recognizes the human voice and can be used to dictate text or to issue commands to operate the computer.
- Spelling and grammar tools – web browser functions, plug-ins, or other software tools to help users write.
- Word prediction – software that presents selections of matching words, phrases, or sentences based on the current input (and sometimes context) to save typing.
Stories related to input
- Ade, reporter with repetitive stress injury
- Stefan, middle school student with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Dyslexia
- Elias, retiree with low vision, hand tremor, and mild short-term memory loss
- Sophie, basketball fan with Down syndrome