Michigan State University

Project Sponsor: Usability / Accessibility Research and Consulting (UARC) and Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities (RCPD)

Problem: People with limited use of their hands have problems using current input devices on voting systems that are often slow and difficult to use. Voters who cannot operate the equipment independently cannot cast a private ballot. 

Proposed Solution:  The project team will create a smart single axis joystick to interact with a voting system. This “Smart Voting Joystick” will have adjustable tension and will provide the user with auditory, haptic, and visual feedback. It will also be programmable so that its operation may be changed through firmware upgrades in the future. The team will also design a universal mounting device that will enable poll workers to quickly position the joystick or switch on a wheelchair armrest, lap tray, or other wheelchair part.

The project team will evaluate the usability of the Smart Voting Joystick and universal mounting devices and with a small group of persons with motoric/dexterity disabilities. Participants will use the joystick to interact with a ballot presented on a computer simulating a voting system.

Who does it help? This project will provide research to create an input device that is more usable for people with limited use of their hands. According to the U.S. Census,  6.7 million US citizens have difficulty grasping objects.  These individuals are potential candidates for joystick controlled wheelchairs. An estimated 125,000 people in the U.S. use joystick controls for their powered wheelchairs.