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

From: Al Gilman <asgilman@access.digex.net>
Date: Thu, 12 Feb 1998 11:38:12 -0500 (EST)
Message-Id: <199802121638.LAA23424@access5.digex.net>
To: chasser@immerse.com (Chris Hasser)
Cc: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org, bruce@immerse.com, evan@immerse.com, louis@immerse.com
to follow up on what Chris Hasser said:
> 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.

Note that threads like this one demonstrate the need for the UI group
that is getting organized as we speak.  That group will probably 
contain people who have better information than the following, but...

I have two broad conjectures for you.

First, I suspect that blind users will be better off with an
absolute frame of references for the motion of the hand.  The
conventional mouse is differentially coupled to the display
cursor.  A tablet or touch screen is "DC coupled" to absolute
display coordinates.  I suspect that blind users will be better
off if the sandbox you prepare for their hand to play in is one
which tracks position, not just accumulates changes in position.

Second hypothesis: The tangible GUI approximates a touch-screen
interface in resolution.  Don't try to put too fine a point on
it.  This is the application class I think you are looking at as
far as UIs for the blind and VI are concerned.

Third, I have a hunch that the real win from force feedback is in
speeding up the process.  I think that you should not try to use
force feedback to communicate minutiae, but rather to make the
maintenance of global context easier.  There should be little
speedbumps in spreadsheets, so you notice each colum or row you
cross with bigger bumps at major blocks.  In fact the little ones
may only be audible and the force feedback reserved for major
divisions.  Make it so it is easy to move to a subregion of the
interactive plane quickly and surely.  If force feedback means
that your hand just knows where you are in the interaction plane
without your eyes having to check, that is the real selling point
for force feedback.

Al Gilman
Received on Thursday, 12 February 1998 11:38:34 UTC

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