keyboards/RSI/switching costs (was Looking for a secondhand Datahand Pro II)

Smylers Smylers at
Thu Oct 22 12:23:51 BST 2009

jesse writes:

> On Wed, Oct 21, 2009 at 04:50:19PM +0100, Smylers wrote:
> > A friend with RSI has a keyboard he can use fine, but needs to avoid
> > mousing.  Unfortunately[*1] whoever wrote the bespoke software used
> > by his branch of the civil service didn't bother with keyboard
> > access for many features.
> In the US, that's ~illegal[1]. The UK doesn't have a similar law?
> [1]

The Disability Discrimination Act[*1] (as ammended) makes it illegal to
discriminate against an employee or potential employee on disability
grounds  But so long as you aren't discriminating, it doesn't mandate
particular ways of doing that in specific situations, or particular
things you must do.

So terminating my friend's employment because their software can't be
used by those unable to mouse would be illegal.  As would forcing him to
use a computer but refusing to buy him specialist equipment (such as a
keyboard or mouse) that he has been diagnosed as needing.  But
apparently having him spending large chunks of the day sat around the
office doing nothing is acceptable, so long as he's still on full pay.

Civil Service guidelines for new software procurement probably insist on
decent accessibility support[*2], but continuing to use legacy systems
which predate[*3] those guidelines isn't inself illegal.

[Don't take legal advice from a law school drop-out.]


  [*2] Though such guidelines sometimes seem to be a bit 'checklisty',
  and often focus on unthinkingly, yet rigorously, applying some tedious
  rules which don't actually help the intended audience, while missing
  out on some big picture design stuff which would improve the user
  experience for all users, including the disabled.

  [*3] Or whose initial invitation to tender predated the guidelines,
  anyway.  That probably being several years before the software was
  delivered, but by then it was 'too late' to insist that the developers
  actually have a clue and design sane interfaces.


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