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Force Feedback Mouse for Blind Users (ref. Hardware for Bind Accountants)

From: Chris Hasser <chasser@immerse.com>
Date: Wed, 11 Feb 1998 09:40:42 -0800
Message-ID: <01BD36D1.219F6180@ws143.hq.immerse.com>
To: "w3c-wai-ig@w3.org" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Cc: "Bruce Schena (E-mail)" <bruce@immerse.com>, "Evan Wies (E-mail)" <evan@immerse.com>, "Louis Rosenberg (E-mail)" <louis@immerse.com>

In November, at Comdex, Immersion announced a force feedback
computer mouse (the FEELit) that would be targeted at mainstream
computer users and would sell for $139 at the end of 1998.  The mouse 
uses active force feedback (not just brakes) and allows the user to feel
Windows elements such as icons, windows, toolbars, menus, etc.  One
potential use for web accessibility would be to draw the mouse toward 
text-entry boxes to allow easier use of tools like Yahoo.  The appeal to
apply the FEELit as an accessibility tool is obvious, but surely won't be a 
slam-dunk.  For sighted users we're enhancing an existing
paradigm, but for blind users we will have to make a previously
useless input device attractive.  Despite the challenges, we're 
enthusiastic about the possibilities.  

Current development efforts are focused on mainstream use, but I'd like
to consider accessibility issues well in advance of product launch.  Thus
this appeal for advice.  I'd be grateful for input in two areas:

1. Useful Mouse Behaviours - Suggestions up to this point include
pulling the mouse towards text entry boxes and washboard-style 
grooves to aid the user in traversing the screen in a straight line.  
Many behaviors will be appealing both to sighted and blind users, but 
I'd be especially happy to add to our list behaviors that a sighted 
development team would be unlikely to think of.  Many effects are 
possible, such as attractive and repulsive vectors and fields, shapes,
boundaries, textures, damping, etc.

2. Suggested Strategies for the next year - people or organizations we
could collaborate with, grants we might apply for, organizations or 
softare companies that might put a prototype to good use (e.g. 
developing valuable software or techniques), etc.

Any other comments would also be appreciated.
You can find out more about the FEELit by visiting http://www.force-feedback.com.  Despite all the recent discussion, it is still unfriendly - my
apologies.  If you like, contact me off-list, and I can e-mail a 
.pdf document.  Thanks in advance for any input.

Chris Hasser

-----Original Message-----
From:	jan katz [SMTP:jkk@umich.edu]
Sent:	Tuesday, February 10, 1998 6:22 AM
To:	w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Subject:	Hardware Requirements for Blind Accountants

Original text
From: dpaschke@mail.well.com (Douglas Paschke), on 2/9/98 2:51 PM:
To: <jkk@umich.edu>

My dear Jan;

The www is a drag for me to use - I don't use it much due to the graphical
mess as it appears to me. I have heard of talking programs that will work
with web pages. It is heavy-duty software that would require a PC much more
powerful than my 486 33mh. However, in June I expect to replace my system
with a Pentium II, and Windows 98. That should help. The problem is that 
the
industry changes so quickly that it is difficult for the talking programs 
to
keep up. If they adopt standards for designing web pages for the disabled
in mind it may alleviate(sp?) this problem.

Jan Katz   jkk@umich.edu
Univ. Michigan Benefits Office
G405 Wolverine Tower
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1278
tel. 313.936.3847
fax 313.763.0363
Received on Wednesday, 11 February 1998 12:42:45 GMT

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