The University of Edinburgh -
Division of Informatics
Forrest Hill & 80 South Bridge

PhD Thesis #9815

Title:Towards Intelligent, Adaptive Input Devices for Users with Physical Disabilities
Date: 1998
Abstract:This thesis presents a novel application of user modelling, the domain of interest being the physical abilities of the user of a computer input device. Specifically, it describes a model which identifies aspects of keyboard use with which the user has difficulty.The model is based on data gathered in an empirical study of keyboard and mouse use by people with and without motor disabilities. In this study, many common input errors due to physical inaccuracies in using keyboards and mice were observed. for the majority of these errors, there exist keyboard or mouse configuration facilities intended to reduce or eliminate them. While such facilities are now integrated into the majority of modern operating systems, there is little published data describing their effect on keyboard or mouse useability. This thesis offers evidence that they can be extremely useful, even essential, but that further research and interface development are required. This thesis presents a user model which focuses on four of the most commonly observed keyboard difficulties. The model also makes recommendations for settings for three keyboard configuration facilities, each of which tackle on of these specific difficulties.As a user modelling task, this application presents a number of interesting challenges. Different users will have very different configuration requirments, and the requirements of individual users may also change over long or short periods of time. some users will have cognitive impairments. Users may have very limited time and energy to devote to computer use. in response, this research has investigated the extent to which it is possible to model users without interupting the task for which they are using a computer in the first place. This approach is appealing because it does not require users to spend time participating in model instantiation. .....

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