Reject files: Able Track trackball, a great idea badly executed

I went about finding an alternative input device in a very circuitous way: I lost a couple of cheap eBay gambles and had to reject possibilities that would have been perfect if not for glaring design flaws. The best example is the Able Track switch adapted trackball.

I was attracted to the Able Track for two reasons: it was the only switch adapted trackball I’d ever seen that didn’t look like a toy and had a true middle click instead of a drag lock. You know how I feel about the importance of auto scrolling. The middle button can be programmed as well, their site says excitedly. The other good thing was that the wrist rest is removable; some wrist rests, such as those built into the CST trackballs, can put your hand at a really awkward slope or angle, especially if you want to use your palm instead of your fingertips, as I would. Also, a more compact device would allow you to change its position to suit you.

The glaring design flaw? The three button trackball, with the programmable middle button Mabatech make such a big deal out of, only has switch jacks for the left and right buttons. How the hell is a switch user supposed to use the middle button? Also, since the middle button has no switch, the internal button is not deactivated the way the left and right clicks are when you plug in external switches. This means you can accidentally press the middle button, which I imagine would happen frequently. For some reason, the middle button is in the very front of the trackball, not behind.

I don’t get it. Even people without disabilities don’t have a lot of choices when it comes to trackballs. That means people with disabilities have even fewer, which I will talk about shortly. If you’re going to offer a new choice, why would you not take the extra step to ensure that it was fully accessible to as many people as possible? A better thought out button placement and one more jack is all it would have taken.

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2 Responses to Reject files: Able Track trackball, a great idea badly executed

  1. G F Mueden says:

    Badly executed for you, Handy, maybe very well for some others. Not everyone has your pattern of disabilities. In the AT world, one size does not fit all. ===gm===

  2. hand2mouth says:

    I know that. This being my blog, I explained why I personally rejected it.

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