This post was written by Ryan Longley, STP trainee with our team:
As part of my Scientist Training Programme (STP) I visited the Barnsley Assistive Technology (AT) team as part of a two week placement, which formed an integral part of my Rehabilitation Engineering rotation. The Barnsley AT team gave me a detailed introduction to their department and the different areas in which they specialise.
The purpose of the AT team is to try and improve the independence of individuals living with disabilities through the assessment, provision and support of Electronic Assistive Technology. As well shadowing staff members throughout various duties, such as home visits and equipment set-up, I was also tasked with a small project on testing and reporting on different mice types for controlling an iPad with the latest iOS software. This blog post reports on the work carried out for this task.
iOS 13 has seen Apple add to their accessibility features. One of these additions has been to provide iPads and iPhones with the ability to connect with various computer mice or joysticks without the need for a connectivity device, such as the AMAneo BTi (the AMAneo BTi being a Bluetooth interface between the iPad/iPhone where a USB mouse or joystick is plugged into the AMAneo and this is paired by Bluetooth to the iPad/iPhone).
My job was to see if various mice would connect to an iPad (running iOS 13.1.3) and would they function effectively. Having tested several different mice. The table below reports on the connectivity of each mouse with the iPad and comments on the mouse working with the iPad.
IoS13 Mouse Access
My work (see Table) showed that all types of mouse trialled were found to connect to the iPad successfully apart from the Headmouse Nano. Initially the Headmouse Nano worked when the Lightening to USB connector was powered from the mains, but the connection was intermittent. It is hoped that this will be addressed in future. The option to connect the Headmouse Nano to the iPad would give clients who don’t have the ability to use their hands a potential means of accessing iOS devices.
Multiple joysticks worked effectively on the iPad. This provides clients with the potential to navigate an iPad when they are unable to directly access the touchscreen. Another significant feature of iOS accessibility is that adjustments can be made to the control of the joysticks and how the user can operate with them. If clicks via the mouse itself or a connected switch are too difficult, there is potential to use “Dwell Control”. This allows selection of an option on screen by simply holding the mouse pointer over the button for a pre-defined period of time. Buttons/control options can also have their functions changed depending on the client’s needs or the different functions that the control interface offers the client. The possibility of operating the iPad and any of the apps they may wish to use, opens access to communication, EC and entertainment.
Overall, this is a positive testament to robustness of this accessibility feature. The simplicity and effectiveness is also evidenced by the fact that all mice that operated successfully could be connected to the iPad in less than one minute. This new connectivity aspect of iOS 13 will hopefully allow AT staff easier and quicker access to different control possibilities for Apple devices. This will lead to cheaper, quicker and more flexible options during setup for EC or communication aid systems which use an iPhone or iPad running iOS 13 or later.
Testing Ios13 Mouse Access
|Mouse Type/Model||Worked on iPad (<1min)||Connection||iOS Settings||Comments|
|Logitech wireless mouse (normal PC mouse)||Yes||Lightening to USB adaptor||Accessibility on iPad settings||Normal PC mouse connects easily to iPad. It can be used in the same way as a mouse on a PC.|
|Headmouse Nano||Works for a short period of time on some occasions BUT intermittently loses connection with message saying ‘this accessory requires too much power’||Lightening to USB
Lighting Adaptor needed to power iPad while Headmouse Nano is plugged into it
|Accessibility > Touch > Assistive Touch > Devices > Connected Devices
|Switch successfully added to Headmouse Nano to enable clicking.
iPad settings can be adjusted in Accessibility to add Dwell Control etc.
|Point-It (Joystick Mouse)||Yes||Bluetooth||Accessibility > Touch > Assistive Touch > Devices > Bluetooth||Buttons on device (yellow/red/green) all worked on iPad (left click/right click etc.)|
|Optimax Joystick||Yes||Lightening to USB adaptor||Accessibility > Touch > Assistive Touch > Devices > Pretorian Optimax||Red (left button) and yellow (right click) both work. Left button set as a mouse click and right button set to bring up iOS menu – e.g with options for home, control centre, device etc|
|R-Net Omni 2 (Wheelchair joystick Computer Mouse)||Yes||Bluetooth||Accessibility > Touch > Assistive Touch > Devices > Bluetooth||Tested with Omni 2 and wheelchair joystick. Option chosen for PC/Android (not iOS). Mouse directions ok. Flick joystick to left for left click and to the right to bring up iOS menu|
|Yumqua mini roller ball wired||Yes||Lightening to USB||Accessibility > Touch > Assistive Touch > Devices > Gaming mouse
|Connected as expected using assistive touch. Can customise buttons to actions (e.g. so can make one of them go home) in Accessibility > Touch > Assistive Touch > Devices > Gaming mouse
|Yumqua mini roller ball wireless||yes||Bluetooth dongle into Lightening to USB||Accessibility > Touch > Assistive Touch > Devices > Gaming mouse
|Could only get button one to work so need to use assistive touch menu for home or any other actions|
Table created Nov 2019 from testing initially with mice connected to an iPad running iOS 13.1.3. At the time the apple device had to have iOS 13 or later in order to have the “Accessibility” page on the Settings. This is what allows mouse connection without the Amaneo.
|Table created Nov 2019 from testing initially with mice connected to an iPad running iOS 13.1.3. At the time the apple device had to have iOS 13 or later in order to have the “Accessibility” page on the Settings. This is what allows mouse connection without the Amaneo.|