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Re: Head in the sand, driving a car

From: Al Gilman <asgilman@iamdigex.net>
Date: Sun, 08 Jun 2003 11:38:39 -0400
Message-Id: <>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org

At one point, this thread was about how to support a teaching task
where a student was, with difficulty, learning to use a mouse.

Pardon me if this has all been said, I searched the archives in vain for
"applet" in this thread and failing that, elected to write.

In this context, any system response other than the response
to the primary mouse button would be a confusion factor, and
a major hazard.

But the task is to be performed in a school where the teacher
doesn't necessarily have access to tweaking the mouse driver
for the student because the computer is shared and the OS
settings are locked down by the overworked IT department.

Several avenues of relief suggest themselves:

a) in the short term, use an applet where right mouse clicks
do nothing or elicit a mild complaint.

A variant of this is the CAROUSEL prototype where the applet is
a very simple thing which displays raster graphics and forwards
events to a servlet where you adapt the event responses as you
see fit.


b) in the medium term, the schools administration should eventually
understand that this learning task is one that they need to support and the
means to get the workstation into one-button-mouse mode be implemented by
the IT team in a way so the teacher can exercise it without breaking the
workstation for other users.

This need not be that far off.  There are utilities, sometimes within
the OS, to save off the preferences of an individual user and even move
them from machine to machine.

c) in the longer term, the strategy being pursued by WGBH and
Toronto and others in the package of accessibility-important
learner preferences discussed in drafts at

  Welcome to IMS Global Learning Consortium: Specification: Accessibility

will make it possible for a) the need to go into one-button-mouse-mode to
follow the user effortlessly between shared workstations, and b) the change
to this mode be made reversibly in ways quality-controlled by the IT team.

In the long run the hope is that something on this order will filter back
into the Web from educational use, through CC/PP.



You could perhaps find that this mouse training goes better if the one
active button _always_ goes to the context menu.  Don't disable the right
button, disable the left button.  Let the function usually short-cut bound
to leftClick be only activated by a mouseDown, mouseMove, mouseUp sequence.

The gesture is harder, but the process is more self-evident.  It's easier
to comprehend the relationship between user action and system response in
this verbose mode.

For users with high spurious input symbol generation rates, the usual
compensation strategy is to introduce a two-phase commit (confirm step).

Despite the limitations of your students, I don't yet know that they wouldn't
understand the articulated interaction better than the abrupt one.
It sounds as though you may need to slow them down, and the carrot of a
system response when they plod may actually work.
Received on Sunday, 8 June 2003 12:24:16 UTC

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