Can you go mouse-less on Global Accessibility Awareness Day?

Person using computer keyboard

What would happen if your mouse or pointing device was taken away from you? Would you know what to do?

As part of GAAD on Thursday 18th May we challenge you to spend a portion of your day (even just 10 minutes) trying to use your computer with just your keyboard.

Yes, you can control your computer as a keyboard only user! Lots of people do. You can even take advantage of keyboard shortcuts if you are a laptop user. We were quite surprised to see lots of examples of websites devoted to laptops advocating keyboard shortcuts.

Some people claim that the "average" user makes upwards of 5000 clicks a day, which highlights why going mouse-less might be even more challenging.

Who uses keyboard shortcuts?

For a start if you have a tremor, you might find it easier to use a keyboard with some of the settings changed. Or you might find using the mouse difficult because you have poor muscle control. Or if you have a really reduced level of movement you might find that taking your hands away from the keyboard to use the pointing device is just too difficult for you.

Five scenarios that you might find difficult if you can't use a mouse

  1. If you are a keyboard user you might find it difficult to see where the focus is on a web page.
  2. How do you cope with pesky flash videos that tell you to "click here" in the middle of the video?
  3. Some websites require you to "drag and drop". It's easy with a mouse but if you are using a keyboard it is a lot more problematic.
  4. Moving money from one bank account to another might be problematic if you are a keyboard only user.
  5. Trying to use a maps tool on a website.

A reason why you might have to be a keyboard only user is that you don't have any sight whatsoever. Not having any sight means that using the mouse becomes impossible, so you've got to do everything using a keyboard to be able to access your screen reader software.

Some website designers might say "I don't expect too many people who are blind will want to come and visit my website".

That's a really unhelpful attitude - good website design benefits everyone! Being able to navigate around websites using your keyboard is so important because it means that people who can't really use pointing devices are still included.

Of course, all you web people out there have tested your websites using keyboard only, haven't you? If you haven't, you are making it harder for keyboard only users to come to your web site and buy your products or get information!

Why don't you have a go at navigating websites using just your keyboard and share the challenge with your friends and colleagues on GAAD? Just do it for 30 minutes and see how you do.  

We'd love to know how you get on!