Assistive technology as cited in Cook and Hussey (2000, p. 5) is “Any item, piece of equipment or product system whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized that is used to increase or improve functional capacities of individuals with disabilities”.
In interpretation of this definition is as follows:
Assistive technology is an intervention that uses some form of technology to assist a disabled person in being able to achieve their needs and meet the desired outcome, to enable the person to participate in everyday activity.
This definition covers all areas where assistive technology can be sort and is clear that there is only one outcome in using assistive technology - that is to improve or increase functional capacities and disabilities.
A trackball is a particular style of computer mouse that allows one to keep their hand and arm in one place, while manipulating a ball that moves the pointer.
The trackball mouse performs the same functions as a normal mouse, however instead of moving the entire mouse to position the cursor, a small solid ball is located directly on the top of the mouse which is used to navigate the cursor across the screen. This reduces the arm and wrist movement previously required to manoeuvre the normal mouse and prevents the user from having to reposition the mouse frequently. The track ball is a great way for people who experience any sort of tremor disability to be able to manoeuvre their way around the computer screen.
Of the trackballs that we viewed, the approximate cost ranged from $135 - $500, they are relatively small in size depending on the make, mode and purpose it is required for but not usually too much bigger than ones entire hand size.
This you-tube clip shows a Quadriplegic typing on keyboard and using a trackball mouse. The trackball mouse enables him to use his whole hand over the mouse and use his arm strength to push the ball around the screen. This particular trackball has click buttons on either side of the ball to click specific things on the screen – the click button can be used as seen here or can be further developed the meet specific needs of the client.
This website is great for all answers frequently asked questions about trackballs. The site is set out clearly with questions and then answers; it covers a wide range of material including brands, models and recommended brands to purchase.
When relating back to occupational concepts a trackball mouse is a great way for preventing/discouraging occupational deprivation. Occupation deprivation is an “influence of external circumstances that prevents a person from acquiring, using, or enjoying occupation over an extended period of time“(Townsend & Wilcock, 2004). If we take for example the quadriplegic from the about clip, we know he enjoys using a computer. Without being able to use a mouse this man would be unable to use the computer, by substituting a normal mouse for a trackball mouse it gives this man back his ability to use the computer, therefor he is not occupationally deprived of using his computer and completing the desired tasks he may have previously completed.
Cook, A. M., & Hussey, S. M. (2000). Assistive technologies: principles and practice. St Louis: Mosby.
Townsend, E., & Wilcock A. A. (2004). Occupational justice and client – centred practice: A dialogue in progress. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 71(2), 75-87.