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Designing For Special Needs

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Design and the Community

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.425.1 - 10.425.5



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Paper Authors

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James Wronecki

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Donivan Potter

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Document 2005-2223

Designing for Special Needs “A universal design for a computational input device.”

James A. Wronecki, Donivan Potter East Tennessee State University, Johnson City

The industrial design of traditional computational input devices such as keyboards and mice on the consumer market today often do not lend themselves to the needs of individuals with physical limitations. To help such individuals the coauthors, a graduate art student and an industrial design professor set out to design a new input device.

To appropriately constrain the design a case study was chosen based on the needs of a computer artist with a physical disability. To help the artist the device needed to eliminate physical barriers caused by the keyboard and mouse and ideally would provide a more natural method of creating digital art such as digital drawings, models, and animations.

The new design integrates digital pen and mouse technologies with a new industrial design to provide the artist with natural pen and mouse based input interactions. The form of the device conveys the pen metaphor while an additional sculpted surface positioned near the pen tip affords a natural thumb rest while providing a place to house two input buttons. The new pen mouse shape informs the user as to how it should be held. When grasped like a pen with the thumb at a natural resting position the user can accurately perform multiple input tasks with the pen tip and nominal left and right thumb movements.

The design enables the user to hold the input device in a more comfortable position and thus reduces repetitive strain injury, stress, discomfort, and fatigue. The design enables the user to remain productive for longer periods without adding further physical injury. The device enables our case subject to work and to contribute to society and because of its universal design is considered to be a viable input device for many types of computer users.

To design an input device for both special needs and universality a specialized universal design process was adopted. This design methodology, outlined in this paper, sought to integrate specific constraining ergonomic factors, a new broad based industrial form, and adaptable digital pen technologies to optimize the device’s functionality.

The factors, form, and function inherent in the device are discussed in detail below.

“Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society of Engineering Education”

Wronecki, J., & Potter, D. (2005, June), Designing For Special Needs Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14900

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