A comparison of area pointing and goal crossing for people with and without motor impairments

Jacob O. Wobbrock and Krzysztof Z. Gajos



Prior work has highlighted the challenges faced by people with motor impairments when trying to acquire on-screen targets using a mouse or trackball. Two reasons for this are the difficulty of positioning the mouse cursor within a confined area, and the challenge of accurately executing a click. We hypothesize that both of these difficulties with area pointing may be alleviated in a different target acquisition paradigm called goal crossing. In goal crossing, users do not acquire a confined area, but instead pass over a target line. Although goal crossing has been studied for able-bodied users, its suitability for people with motor impairments is unknown. We present a study of 16 people, 8 of whom had motor impairments, using mice and trackballs to do area pointing and goal crossing. Our results indicate that Fitts' law models both techniques for both user groups. Furthermore, although throughput for able-bodied users was higher for area pointing than for goal crossing (4.72 vs. 3.61 bits/s), the opposite was true for users with motor impairments (2.34 vs. 2.88 bits/s), suggesting that goal crossing may be viable for them. However, error rates were higher for goal crossing than for area pointing under a strict definition of crossing errors (6.23% vs. 1.94%). Subjective results indicate a preference for goal crossing among motor-impaired users. This work provides the empirical foundation from which to pursue the design of crossing-based interfaces as accessible alternatives to pointing-based interfaces.

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Citation Information

Jacob O. Wobbrock and Krzysztof Z. Gajos. A comparison of area pointing and goal crossing for people with and without motor impairments. In Assets '07: Proceedings of the 9th international ACM SIGACCESS conference on Computers and accessibility, pages 3-10, New York, NY, USA, 2007. ACM.