Minnesota State Employees Spend 15 Minutes Without a Mouse

The North Star state's employees take the “No Mouse Challenge” to gain awareness of technology accessibility.

You may be a quick keys savant, but how productive would you be without your computer mouse?

It’s an interesting question, and one Minnesota’s state information technology office, better known as MN.IT, raised for employees on May 21, as part of Global Accessibility Awareness Day.

The challenge was simple, yet daunting: Do your normal job for 15 minutes without the aid of a computer mouse, relying only on keyboard commands.

The state said working without a mouse is a good accessibility test as a system or application that cannot support a mouse-less operation may not support assistive technology or accessibility tools.

Kevin Purdy, a writer for ITworld, took the challenge a few years ago, and his experience is telling:

When you've got your keyboard shortcut groove going, you feel like you're a cybernetic warrior, able to will your ideas into existence at the speed of thought. You flip through tabs, mow down your inbox with a machete, summon your coworkers' attention, all without moving your hands more than an inch. You, sitting right there, are the realization of an entire generation's worth of technology hopes and dreams.

Then, every so often, you come across a web application, a little pop-up box, or something else on your system that you can't quite act on, no matter how many times you hopefully press "Tab." Now you feel like you're a toddler, blindly stabbing your ineffectual fingers out into the air, hoping to communicate your wants and feelings, but only receiving strange sounds and condescending looks from your superiors.

MN.IT held technology accessibility workshops in government offices across the state. Those who finished the test got a sticker, a snack and an invitation to tell of their challenges working without a mouse.

The goal was to raise awareness for the struggles faced by the disabled when using technology — especially among the design, development and usability communities — to make sure everyone can get full use out of technology and the Internet.

Now — and you knew it was coming — it’s time for you to take the test yourself. Here’s a list of shortcuts to try; below, you can find a video that talks about accessibility technology. In the comments, let us know how it went.

Ingram Publishing
May 29 2015