“Mouse House:” Adapt a Computer Mouse for Switch Users

For just a couple dollars or less, you can turn your existing mouse into a single switch.
Sure, there are some snazzy commercial switch adapters that allow students with motor impairments to operate the computer with a switch. They are programmable and allow for input from multiple switches. They are very cool. And very expensive for families on a budget.
Enter the Mouse House. A peer or adult places the cursor over the spot on the screen you want to make available to the child, such as the “forward” button on the PowerPoint books we made last week. The Mouse House holds the mouse still and provides a big surface to activate the mouse’s left-click. Caution: don’t abandon your child, as the cursor may manage to slowly sneak off the target on the screen. Be ready to jump in and reposition the cursor if needed. Also, if your child is reading books online, make sure the forward button doesn’t change position from one page to the next. Some online sites pay good attention to this, but not all are that careful.

Mouse sits in plastic packaging from an older mouse.
The blue ball presses the left mouse button;
the sponge strip pushes the cover back into its original position.

Whenever I show this at workshops, it draws a TON of interest. Today I want to share how simple and cheap it is to make one of your own.
Basically, you'll start by creating a snug little "bed" to hold the mouse secure in a photo album cover that has had its pages removed. Then you glue a bumper to the inside cover directly over the left-click button on the mouse. Add something springy to push the bumper off the mouse button until the next time the album cover takes a swat and you are good to go! All for between free and $3.00.
You’ll need a few basic supplies:
--a cheap, chunky 4x6” photo album from the bargain aisle (or Dollar Store)
--something to hold the mouse in place. Use cellulose foam sponges (NOT the kind that get stiff once they’ve gotten wet!) OR the gray open-cell foam packing from your latest electronic gizmo OR the plastic packaging from your mouse OR Wikisticks (those waxed yarn strands that occupational therapists love)…your imagination is the limit!
--something to make the cover springy. The foam sponges used to hold the mouse in place do this very well.  You might also try double-sticky foam tape mounted to the photo album cover opposite the highest point of the mouse (leave the paper on one side!) or a leftover bit of foam insulating tape from your latest weatherproofing project….
--a bumper. Linda uses unmelted glue stick; ours uses a plastic ball from a pony tail holder that lost its battle with the cat. You could use a bit of dowel, a broken part off a toy, a shiny pebble from a rock tumbler…anything that won’t scratch your mouse button.
--8” of Velcro
--hot glue
--an electric knife or a serrated bread knife if you're going be cutting cellulose sponges
--most importantly, Linda Burkhart’s directions for a mouse house. Read over Linda’s directions, but feel free to substitute supplies you may have around your house.
If you ever have the opportunity to hear Linda speak, jump on that chance. She’s quite delightful and engaging. I really appreciate her wonderful approach to adapting materials as inexpensively as possible…a woman after my own heart!
Release your inner Occupational Therapist and have fun making your child a Mouse House!


Tonya said...

This is great. I will keep it in mind for when I need to use it.

Continuing Education Contractor said...

Good find. I've been looking for unique and extraordinary mouse all over the web! My buddies at Electrical Continuing Education will definitely be awestruck! Thanks.

Rose-Marie said...

CEC, thanks for sharing! This idea isn't mine, but it's so worth passing along. My daughter has gotten miles of mouse clicks out of her mouse house.