Alternative Mouse Systems


an image of a Kensington trackballAlternative pointing devices are used to replace the mouse. This may include the use of trackballs, joysticks, trackpads, switches, etc.

A Trackball is a stationary device that holds a ball that you can freely maneuver in any direction. It separates the movement of the pointer from the mouse clicks, especially useful for those who have less fine motor control and for those who find a sustained grip on the traditional mouse uncomfortable. Many trackballs offer the left and right mouse buttons plus one or two more which can be programmed to be a double click or 'click and drag' functions.

Joysticks are gaming related pointing devices. A joystick might work well for someone who has difficulties with other pointing devices.

Trackpads are a touch sensitive flat surface - you drag your finger on the surface to control the screen cursor. You can get a track pad and attach it to your computer. Most laptops offer a built-in trackpad that is positioned in front of the keyboard.

For those unable to use a traditional mouse or trackball, one to five switches may be programmed to allow the user to move the pointer and 'click'.

Mouse input can also be given by high tech pointing devices, which transmit the location of a transmitter or reflective dot on the user's head to the computer system, or follow the movement of the users’ eye. Separate switches or just dwelling on a location are used for mouse clicks and drags. These devices are frequently used with on-screen keyboards for text input by people with limited movement. 

Points to Ponder

Questions to consider when choosing an alternative mouse system
  • Is it compatible with your computer's platform?
  • Does it use eye/head tracking, foot pedals, or sip and puff, or is it handheld?
  • If handheld, is it a mouse, joystick, trackball, touch screen or pen?
  • Does it allow tactile feedback?
  • Does it have voice input control?
  • When choosing a mouse control software, what are the additional hardware requirements needed (e.g., webcam, mounting systems)?
  • Consider where the alternative mouse system is set up. Can you l independently access it?
  • How is it connected to your computer? (e.g., PS2, USB, wireless, Bluetooth, etc.)



Manufacturers of Alternative Mouse Devices 

SNOW does not endorse any of the following software/hardware. These links are provided for information purposes only.

EyeTech Digital Systems
Contour Designs
IMG, Inc.
Natural Point
Origin Instruments
RJ Cooper
Synapse Adaptive
Did you know? That there are built in mouse features available for free on your computer.  Learn more about the accessibility features of your computer here. 

Free/Open Source Mouse Control Software

Ace Centre – SAW5 Designer (Windows), SAW5 Lite (Windows)
Camera Mouse (Windows)
CREA Software Systems – Enable Viacam or EViacam (Windows, Linux)
Polital Enterprises - Point N’ Click Virtual Mouse (Windows)
Additional Useful Links

AutoHotkey is an open source utility for Windows that allows you to create hotkeys for mouse, joystick and keyboard.

KeyXL provides you with keyboard shortcuts for various programs for Windows, Mac, Linux platforms.