May 30, 2014

Oviatt Library Opposes Left-Handed People

handcuffed computer user
I first wrote about this problem back in the fall of 2009, after being in a class in the California State University, Northridge, Library. I attempted to use Control Panel to reverse the mouse buttons so I could use the device with my left hand. But Control Panel was not visible on the desktop. There was an "Accessibility" menu, but none of the things listed there had anything to do with making the computer accessible to lefties.

I asked the librarian in charge of the class for help, but she didn't know how to switch the buttons. She brought in an arrogant techie who told me that there was no way to switch the buttons because Control Panel had been disabled for security reasons. (Interestingly, computers in some of the other labs on campus allow access to control panel and the mouse buttons. As far as I know, they do not have security problems.) Tech-guy claimed that I was the first person who had ever asked for this. When I told him I wouldn't be the last, he said it would probably be another twelve years before that happened. My right-handed friends were shocked by his attitude. Note that if we were talking about accessibility for people who read and write Japanese (which was available on that computer) it wouldn't matter how many or how often. Does the library refuse to meet the needs of all the various ethnic and language groups, deaf people, or people with various special needs, simply because they haven't often made these requests?

Since then, the situation has actually gotten worse. After the library was "improved" last year, the mouse cords were attached to the desks in such a way that the mice cannot be moved to the left side of the keyboard. So now, not only can I not reverse the buttons, I can't use the mouse in the library with my left hand at all. I am pretty sure that schools in California stopped forcing left-handed students to switch at least 50 years ago. But apparently the Oviatt Library at CSUN still hasn't gotten the memo.

If you would like to let the administration know what you think of this policy, you can contact CSUN in various ways.