To those who have never been around disabled people, the idea of operating a computer or iPad with your nose may sound silly, but it’s a valid way to access a device and for some people it works better than anything else.
Lyn Levett – Musician
Lyn Levett has cerebral palsy and uses an iPad mounted on her wheelchair. This video shows Lyn using her iPad to communicate, play games, compose music, and text her friends.
Lyn has good head control but cannot use her hands or voice to control the device, so nose control is a good solution for her. Other possible control methods, if Lyn wanted to explore different options, might include a head pointer or mouth stick, or a set of head-operated switches.
Minikirk1 – Student
This video, by YouTube user minkirk1, is just captioned “Visually impaired girl uses iPad with nose.” The video shows a young girl, unnamed, who holds her iPad in both hands as she uses her iPad to type various words.
It appears that the girl prefers using the iPad with her nose because her vision impairment means she needs to hold the iPad very close to her face to see it and this doesn’t leave room for easily touching the screen with a finger. Alternative options, if desired, may involve learning to use the iPad’s zoom function to enlarge what’s on the screen, or using the VoiceOver screen reader to interact with the iPad instead of sight.
Michelle Vandy – Graphic Designer
In her own words:
In 2011 I got RSI in both arms after working long hours as an intern at an architecture firm. It turned into a chronic condition for me and I had to figure out a new way of interacting with my computer. So I put together a simple device that allows me to use my nose instead of my hands. I’ve been working like this for years, but mostly in secret. I used to be extremely embarrassed about it, but now I’m quite proud of it. It allows me to do the work I really enjoy.
Michelle’s website includes a great video showing her setup and designing process:
Because Michelle’s work depends so much on fine graphics work it’s hard to think of alternative hands-free access methods that might work for her. One option might be a joystick that’s designed to be controlled by small lip movements, such as the TetraMouse or Jouse but these options would cost many times what Michelle’s solution cost.
I really admire the creativity and persistence of these users at figuring out access methods that really work for them. When your disability or impairment is unusual or it affects you differently to most people it can take a lot of out-of-the-box thinking to find a solution.
Do you know somebody who uses a unusual access method to operate their iPhone, iPad, or Mac? We’re always looking for more user stories – get them to contact me.