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A trackball works like an upside-down mouse. Instead of rolling the ball on the table by sliding the mouse around, the ball is moved directly by the user. The trackball does not need to be grabbed; only the ball must be nudged. Most people move the ball with their hands, but it can also be operated with a chin, elbow, foot, or stick held in the mouth. Trackballs come in many sizes, including ones that can be operated by a single finger. For people with limited fine motor ability, a trackball with a larger ball may be useful. Since the trackball remains in a stationary position on the desk or mounted on a stand, it can be a good option for a person with a limited range of motion. They are available at standard computer stores for $50-100.

One of the most popular trackballs, for both PC and Macintosh systems is the Kensington Expert Mouse. In addition to the standard mouse buttons, it also has a “drag” or “click lock” feature. The user does not need to press a button for the entire time that a “drag” command is being carried out. Instead, text can be highlighted by positioning the cursor at one end of the text, hitting the “drag” button, moving the cursor to the end of the text, and hitting the button again. This trackball is available off-the-shelf at stores selling computer products.

If an individual is able to operate a trackball, but does not have enough range of motion to reach all of the keys on even a compact keyboard, a virtual, On-screen keyboard may be considered.

See the Mouse alternatives article for more cursor control options.

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