One thing many of us more experienced computer users take for granted is the use of a mouse and its associated buttons and wheel. However, I often teach complete beginners how to use a computer, usually elderly clients, who often have hand or wrist mobility limitations and it can be extremely difficult for them to manipulate their system using the standard mouse actions.
Two areas that are of significant impact are the double click to open programs and the tracking of the mouse pointer around the screen, especially if the movement is very sensitive. Fortunately, these settings can be adjusted.
Click in your search bar and type ‘mouse’ and you should see the option to change your mouse settings. If not then you can also find this in your control panel settings.
In the settings I would highly recommend focussing on the Double Click speed, which controls the length of time you have to double click an icon to open a program, and the Pointer Speed which is located on the Pointer Options tab.
Here you will also find a number of other tweaks and settings related to using the mouse; switching the buttons (for lefties), adjusting the scroll speed of the wheel, turning on shadows and ‘trails’ so that it is easier to follow the pointer as it moves and even selecting themes to change how the pointer looks.
If you find mouse control tricky, or you have a family member that struggles with it, then it is worth spending 15 minutes or so in these settings changing the options until they match the skills and dexterity of the user.
As with most things practice makes perfect. To help develop mouse skills SeniorNet.org have uploaded a set of simple online exercises that allow you to practice mouse control. You can find these at the following link http://bit.ly/1SHN8wd or on the web site http://seniornet.org/
In some cases, especially as we get more senior in years, our hands can suffer stiffness and arthritis. Some of my customers find it very difficult to use a mouse so instead I have introduced them to a trackball (see image).
The trackball works in a similar manner to a mouse but instead of having to move the unit around a flat surface you can control mouse movement by using your fingers or palm of your hand to roll the ball around, moving the mouse pointer on the screen accordingly. This can be a great help to those with hand mobility issues. Trackballs start at around £20 and upwards but there is no real need to pay more than £40 unless you need a high precision version.
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