What is assistive technology?

Assistive technology is any kind of technology and/or tool that can be used to enhance the functional independence of a person with a disability. Often, for people with disabilities, accomplishing daily tasks such as communicating with others, going to school or work, or participating in activities can be a challenge. Assistive Technology (AT) devices are tools to help overcome those challenges and enable people living with disabilities to enhance and have access to a quality of life, that may otherwise not be known, and lead more independent lives.

The mission of this blog is to serve as a voice of a constant researcher in the field of educational and assistive technologies so that the best products, strategies and services may be located easily, in hopes that they will then be delivered, taught and used to better the lives of people with disabilities.


Building Mouse Skills

Helping students to develop mouse skills can be a challenge. There are free activities online for helping children to build mouse skills. There are games and various drawing programs (see previous posting "Sites to Support Students with Special Needs" for a listing of drawing programs) that provide simple mouse practice for the beginning mouser. Below you will find some activities designed to help build mouse skill success:
The skills to operate a mouse, consists of:
  1. Movement
  2. Targeting
  3. Click
  4. Double Click
  5. Click & Drag
  6. Right Click
  7. Choosing from menus
You may need to go into the computer settings to make adjustments, such as:
  1. Change style/shape/size Pointers
  2. Change size of Icons
  3. Change size/style of fonts
  4. Adjust speed
  5. Show trails
  6. Swap buttons for left and right hands dominate users

When working with students with special needs, consider:
  1. Can they use the pointer to reach all the targets on the screen?
  2. Is the size and spacing of the targets appropriate?
  3. What is the action needed to make a selection? i.e. click, drag, double click etc. and is it reasonable that we ask them to attempt these actions?
  4. Is the sensory feedback provided adequate and/or appropriate for this student?

For a variety of practice activities, explore:
  • BillyBear4Kids provides simple mix and match on-line games for young children.
  • Browser Books provides on-line PowerPoint type books where children read a story and click the arrow to turn the page.
  • Bubble Wrap is just what it says- imagine! Virtual Bubble Wrap. You must use your mouse to pop the individual bubbles.
  • Color Boxes - Headmouse, hands-free mouse, adaptive mice, camera mouse, alternative mice, or alternative input device, any mouse user is welcome to practice mouse skills!
  • Cursor Moving tutorial is designed to help people who have never used a computer before. We will concentrate on using the mouse and a few other basic skills.
  • Find The Animal or Find the Vegetable (Papunet Games) provides pictures that respond when you click the mouse (or switch). You can choose “Settings” after choosing the activity to adjust the frequency of visual obstructions.
  • Fireworks is exactly what it says it is. Click the o mouse and you will be rewarded with virtual fireworks.
  • Imagination ... fun motivation to use a mouse as color and shapes follow your mouse movement.
  • Jacob's Lessons starts with real basic mouse skill development to adding some matching skills, to working with opposites and prepositions. Very basic skill development with simple, clear graphics and encouraging prompts.
  • Danbury, Connecticut Schools has a Kindergarten page with a nice little section on building mouse skills. The activities are provided in a simple format that keeps you calm and focused. Entertaining!
  • Larry's Master the Mouse teaches the movements of teh mouse, clicking, double clicking and more. It has games and drills to help teach the mouse with animation and sounds.
  • Man in the Dark may not be for all as it is pretty weird! Weird and addictive, use your mouse / touch screen to move and watch the man loop and twist around the screen. Clicking once with the mouse begins a repeating animated sequence of more and more men, clicking again returns you to just one.
  • Mouse Program provides simple (but not too young) activities for learning how to use all aspects of the mouse.
  • Mousing Around provides games that provide clicking at different levels.
  • Online jigsaw puzzles helps to learn mouse control, it's educational and good fun. Use your mouse to drag the jigsaw pieces to form the picture. You are able to upload your own pictures.
  • PRTV is a great little interactive playhouse for all ages. Makes you work that mouse!
  • Singing Horses is a great simple program that even adults will have fun with!
If a child has a hard time understanding the connection between, "when I do this over here, that happens over there" when using a mouse, you may consider putting the mouse in front of the montior (keybaord up and away for now) on a slant board. This will draw the eyes up and allow the child to see their hand and the screen at the same time.

For more:

updated 3/2016