October 13, 2009

CSUN's Oviatt Library Discriminates Against Lefties

handcuffed computer user

Last week I attended a class in the Cal State Northridge Library. I moved the mouse to the left-hand side and then attempted to reverse the mouse buttons. Normally I simply use control Panel to change the mouse settings. But Control Panel was not visible on the library’s computer. 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 how to switch the mouse buttons. She didn’t know how and went to get someone else. She came back with a guy who told me that there was no way to switch the buttons because Control Panel had been disabled for security reasons. He claimed that I was the first person who had ever asked for this. I told him I wouldn’t be the last. He said it would probably be another twelve years before that happened. Wow! My right handed friends agreed with me that his response was inappropriate. And, seriously, if we were talking about accessibility for people who speak Japanese (which was available on that computer) would it matter how many or how often? Would the library refuse to meet the needs of all the various ethnic and religious groups, deaf people, or people with disabilities who are on campus, simply because they haven’t often made these requests? I don’t think so.

Reversing the mouse button is a simple thing that has been easy to do on PCs for many, many years. Not every lefty reverses the mouse buttons, but many do. In fact, even some righties do this, so they can use the mouse in the left hand while taking notes with the right. The point is, those of us who need to use the mouse in this perfectly normal way should not be placed at a disadvantage.

So here’s my request. Whether or not you are left-handed, and whether or not you prefer to switch the mouse buttons, if you are a CSUN student (or anyone who has business on campus) please go to the library and ask for help reversing the mouse buttons for left-handed use. Be polite but firm. In your conversation with the librarian, make sure you use the word “accessible”. For example, “It’s hard to use the library when the computers aren’t accessible.” Or, “How do you plan to address this accessibility problem?” You might also want to use the word “discrimination”, as in, “I’m very surprised to find this kind of discrimination going on here.”

14 comments :

  1. This is amazing. In the modern world, with all the technology that's available, how can a university take this attitude?

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  2. Gobsmacked Rosemary! A Uni library too! In Victoria you could probably make a discrimination case.

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  3. I'm very surprised. As the mother of a left-hander, and mother-in-law of another left-hander, I find this totally unacceptable. And it *is* about accessability!

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  4. Lefties may not take the time to ask for the correct mouse settings, but this is mostly just because we know from experience how useless it is to complain to right-handed people who don't take our needs seriusly. This is very frustrating.

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  5. There is no legitimate reason to make our left-handed children struggle this way. Computers should be equal opportunity.

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  6. this is just crazy. why would they do that?

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  7. I don't understand how they can be allowed to do this

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  8. How can a public institution do this? It's about accessibility for everyone.

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  9. typical school administration, no consideration for the individual

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  10. Concerned StudentOctober 29, 2009

    Isn't CSUN breaking the law? Don't they have to make their facilities equally accessible to all students? What is going on here?

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  11. I was a student there and I was annoyed that I couldn't switch the mouse. I'll admit I didn't think of asking them to fix it. I'm so used to little things like that being inconvenient that I guess I just put up with it. I realize that by not asking I let them think there's no problem. But look what happened when you asked. They didn't try to help you at all. Their job is supposed to be to help students, but in reality they just hope we will shut up and go away.

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  12. yeh, they say nobody asked before, but that's because we already know what the answer will be. jerks.

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  13. AnonymousMay 19, 2013

    It actually has to do with the ability to configure windows....not purposeful discrimination. And I am left handed too.

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    Replies
    1. Windows is very easily configured for left handed use and there are other departments that allow it with no problem.

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