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Integrated text entry from power wheelchairs

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Power wheelchair joysticks have be used to control a mouse cursor on desktop computers, but they offer no integrated text entry solution, confining users to point-and-click or point-and-dwell with on-screen keyboards. On-screen keyboards reduce useful screen real-estate, exacerbating the need for frequent window management, and impose a secondary focus of attention. By contrast, we present two integrated gestural text entry methods designed for use from power wheelchairs: one for use with joysticks and the other for use with touchpads. Both techniques are adaptations of EdgeWrite, originally a stylus-based unistroke method designed for people with tremor. In a preliminary text entry study of 7 power wheelchair users, we found that EdgeWrite with a touchpad was faster than the on-screen keyboard WiViK with a joystick, and EdgeWrite with a joystick was only slightly slower. These results warranted a multi-session comparison of text entry with EdgeWrite and WiViK using joysticks and touchpads, in which we found touchpads faster than joysticks, and EdgeWrite faster than WiViK with both devices after initial learning periods.

Keywords: Computer access; EdgeWrite; Gestures; Joystick; On-screen keyboard; Pebbles; Power wheelchair; Text entry; Text input; Touchpad; Unistrokes; WiViK

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Human–Computer Interaction Institute, School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, 15213, USA, {jrock, hha, bam}, Email: 2: A.T. Sciences, LLC, 160N. Craig Street, Suite 117, Pittsburgh, PA, 15213, USA, (412) 687-1181, Email:

Publication date: 2005-05-01

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