Case Study: Repetitive Stress Injury

Mr. Jones, Reporter with repetitive stress injury

Mr. Jones is a reporter for an on-line journal who must submit his articles using a web based tool (called content management system — CMS) provided by the publisher. Over his twenty-year career, Mr. Jones developed repetitive stress injury (RSI) in his hands and arms, and it has become painful for him to type.

He does not use a mouse because it strains his wrists. He also cannot type for long periods of time without serious pain. After dedicated research and consultation, Mr. Jones developed an approach that allows him to continue working as a reporter. He uses:

  • Keyboard with ergonomically laid out to relieve strain on his hands and arms
  • Web browser with keyboard support to use websites without a mouse
  • Voice recognition software to dictate passages of text rather than to type

It took him several months to become sufficiently accustomed to using voice recognitio software and to be comfortable working with it for many hours at a time. It also took him a while to learn the keyboard commands built into his web browser and to use them effectively on different types of web pages.

Still, Mr. Jones cannot use websites that do not provide keyboard support. For instance, some websites have forms and controls that do not have keyboard equivalents. To activate these, he would have to use a mouse instead of voice recognition or typing, and this would worsen his RSI. Many websites also do not provide mechanisms to skip over forms, menus, and other parts of a web page using the keyboard alone. To navigate through such websites, he would have to use the keyboard extensively, and this would again strain his hands.

In order for Mr. Jones to continue working with the publisher, web developers built customized work-arounds into the CMS to add some of the keyboard support that was initially missing. It is not an optimal solution and only works for some of the functions, but the publisher intends to upgrade the CMS to one with full keyboard support, especially since other employees found that keyboard support was easier on their hands.

Our questions to you are:

  • If Mr. Jones visits your website, would he be able to surf it without a mouse?
  • Would he book mark you, for future reference and purchases?
  • Does your website use keyboard support?

Case Study from: The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)
Our Questions from: IceWeb Solutions’ Staff