Did you know you can connect a keyboard and/or mouse to any smartphone or tablet supporting the Android Operating System? Yes – its true! This gives users the ability to maximize ease and comfort when using their devices. For some people with disabilities, the ability to use any keyboard or mouse can make using a smartphone or tablet possible!
Check out the following resources below to learn how to connect a keyboard and/or mouse to an Android device. Keep in mind, Android supporting devices are manufactured by many different companies, so features among different device makes and models vary and not all of these suggestions will apply to your specific device.
Recently I worked with a woman (lets call her Jane) who has Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and the goal to independently control her television. Due to MS, Jane has little control of her body from the neck down, which makes using a standard television remote control impossible. Initially her Occupational Therapist (OT) tried setting her up with the Amazon Echo and Harmony Hub to control her television using voice control. (See how that is possible through this blog post Amazon Echo Part 4: Echo and Harmony, have you heard how well they work together?) Unfortunately it did not work consistently because MS also impacts Jane’s voice. At best, her voice is soft and whispery and the Amazon Echo could not consistently understand her commands. Her OT contacted me so we could work together to find a more reliable solution.
After meeting Jane the first thing I noticed was she uses a sip-and-puff straw as a call button to alert nursing home staff when she needs assistance. I asked her if she could easily and consistently use this sip-and-puff solution, and she said yes! Eureka! I immediately grabbed the Jouse2, a joystick-operated mouse with sip-and-puff capabilities that users control with their mouth. I hooked it up to a Samsung Galaxy Note Pro using an Insignia On the Go Adapter. I then downloaded the Harmony app onto the Samsung Galaxy Note Pro and linked the app to her existing Harmony Hub. Next I programmed her DVR, Samsung television, DVD player, and Bose sound system into her Harmony app by simply inputting each device’s model number. Once completed, the Harmony app provides users a digital remote control featuring all of the buttons and capabilities their physical remote controls have! Using the Jouse2 to control a mouse pointer on the tablet, Jane is able to move the mouse cursor over the remote button she wants to press, and select it by puffing into the Jouse’s sip-and-puff straw! With practice, Jane is now a master at controlling the Jouse2 with her mouth and controls her entertainment devices without any assistance at all! Jane can also take advantage of all of the other features on a tablet. She is able to use the internet, email, Skype, set-up other smart-home controls, and more!
One last thing – I disabled the sip command on the Jouse2 so it only receives information from a puff command. I did this because the sip is like a right click, and the puff is like a left click. Tablets receive input from tapping on the screen and the puff command preforms that function. The sip command caused glitches in the Harmony app, and that is why disabled it. This is simple to do, and is explained in the Jouse’s user manual.