Half Qwerty and the Half Keyboard
One Hand Typing and Keyboards With One Hand Alternatives, such as the Maltron, the Bat, and One Hand Dvorak

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Lilly Walters

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If you have good use of one hand, you must first try to learn a system that enables you to work study, and play on a standard, normal keyboard. This one hand typing system is called One Hand QWERTY. This method teaches the one hand user to type on a normal keyboard, with one hand, just as fast as he would on an adaptive keyboard.

If you are searching for options for a young person with a hand disability, then it is MANDATORY that you do NOT try alternatives to the standard keyboard if the child has full use of one hand. Child typists and Assistive Technology and Adaptive Keyboards


(QWERTY refers to the standardkeyboard see your keyboard, starting at Q and going to th e left)

Half -Qwerty is for the one handed user who recently and permanently lost the use of a hand. Half -Qwerty uses the skills the typist used as a two handed typist.

Although, I often suggest the following Half QWERTY for the one handed user who knew how to type before their disability, I have a reservations. My research has shown that most people would rather be a very bad typist on a standard keyboard, than use something the others in their workplace are not using.

The following information will tell you about the Half QWERTY system. For the one handed user who knew how to type before their disability, this can be learned faster than any other option.

But will our user use this system, or any other? It will be up to the user. Their courage, their drive, and the encouragement of those around them.

Arise and GO forth!

Lilly Walters , International speaker, author, speakers bureau executive, and one hand typist.

One-Handed Touch-Typing on a QWERTY Keyboard


Edgar Matias, The Matias Corporation and I. Scott MacKenzie, University of Guelph and William Buxton



The QWERTY keyboard has been much maligned over the years. It has been called, by various authors: "less than efficient" (Noyes, 1983, p. 269), "drastically suboptimal" (Gould, 1987, p. 16), "one of the worst possible arrangement[s] for touch typing" (Noyes, 1983, p. 267), "the wrong standard" (Gould, 1987, p. 23), and a "technological dinosaur" (Gopher & Raij, 1988, p. 601). Despite this, it has for various reasons (Litterick, 1981; Noyes, 1983; Potosnak, 1988) stood the test of time, a fact often overlooked by designers of alternative keyboards. Until recently, the massive skill base of QWERTY typists has been largely ignored, with new designs favouring "better" layouts. In this paper, we shall be more conservative, preferring instead to argue that QWERTY is not an evolutionary dead end.

Our modern method of typing by touch was originally popularized by L. V. Longley and F. E. McGurrin, in the latter part of the nineteenth century (Cooper, 1983). Curiously, despite over a hundred years of industrialization, QWERTY and the Longley and McGurrin technique remain largely unchanged. One of Longley's students would be comfortable on a modern computer keyboard, despite the alien machinery surrounding it. Similarly, we believe that this student would have little trouble acquiring the new, complementary, one-handed typing technique which we are about to propose. This paper describes the new technique, with which a two-handed touch-typist with very little retraining can type with one hand on a software-modified QWERTY keyboard. In effect, it is the one-handed equivalent of Longley and McGurrin's original eight-finger, two-handed typing technique. We call the technique "Half-QWERTY," because it uses only half of a QWERTY keyboard.

The present study examines the degree to which skill transfers from QWERTY to Half-QWERTY keyboards, for typists already skilled in the use of a QWERTY keyboard. This was tested in an experiment using a standard keyboard for both the one-handed and two-handed conditions.



Most one-handed keyboards are chord keyboards. Half-QWERTY is not. The design builds on two principles:

1. A user's ability to touch-type on a standard QWERTY keyboard.

2. The fact that human hands are symmetrical -- one hand is a mirror image of the other -- and the brain controls them as such.

A Half-QWERTY keyboard is comprised of all the keys used by one hand to type on a standard QWERTY keyboard, with the keys of the other hand unused or absent. When the space bar is depressed, the missing characters are mapped onto the remaining keys in a mirror image (Figure 1), such that the typing hand makes movements homologous to those previously performed by the other hand. For example, in two-handed typing the letter J is typed using the INDEX finger of the RIGHT hand in the HOME row (see Figure 1, right side). Using the Half-QWERTY technique, J is entered with the left hand by holding down the space bar and hitting the F key (INDEX finger of the LEFT hand in the HOME row; see Figure 1, left side). Notice that in both cases the INDEX finger is in the HOME row to type J.

Figure 1. Left- and right-hand Half-QWERTY layouts on a standard QWERTY keyboard. When a key is depressed, the character in the upper left of the key is entered. When preceded by holding down the space bar, the character in the lower right is entered. Note: Copyright © 1992 by The Matias Corporation. Used with permission.


Thus, using the space bar as a modifier, a typist can generate the characters of either side of a full-sized keyboard using only one hand. We call this mirror-image remapping of the keyboard the "flip" operation.

to order, call 909-398-1228 or E-mail Lilly@aboutonehandtyping.com


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One Hand Typing System Comparisons:

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Where to buy and to learn more

Use the standard keyboard (ONE HAND QWERTY)*

Children, and those who have not yet learned to type*, or those who knew how to type, but have been "hunting and pecking for at least 6 months since their injury. Sellablity in the job market. 100% compatible with the mainstream for work and play, enables the one hand person to use the same computer and keyboards as any two handed person. Least expensive.  $49


Half QWERTY Half Keyboard

Adults who knew how to touch type before their disability to one hand

Learn Half-QWERTY in a matter of minutes, with little or no retraining.


Half Keyboard (left hand only)

Half-QWERTY Keyboard






Half QWERTY Half Keyboard


Adults who have seriouly tried to learn One Hand QWERTY, and like the idea tyring to learn a new way to type. The keyboard is layed out in an alterntive layout, but shaped to better help the hand $695


Bat one hand keyboard

Those with disabilities in both hands Uses simple "cords," with very little movement  $199


One Hand Dvorak

Adults who have seriouly tried to learn One Hand QWERTY, and like the idea tyring to learn a new way to type. The keyboard is layed out in an alterntive layout. Free


Overview Adaptive Assistive Keyboards | One Hand QWERTY | Half QWERTY Half Keyboard  |  Maltron One Handed Keyboard  |  BAT One Handed Keyboard  | One Hand Dvorak

NORMAL Mini Childsize Keyboards,
for One Hand Typists
and those with Small Hands

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2 Types of
One Hand Typing

  • Book
  • Manual on CD (Mac or PC)

See more on both

What's New?

One Hand Typing and Keyboarding & Resources on CD

($49, plus $7 s/h): On the CD are ...

1) Many versions of One Hand Typing and Keyboarding Manuals: some to practice on screen, and one to print

2) One Handed Office Professional eBook: How To Be The Most Productive Person in Your Office

3) Scores of resources from all of the Internet

Laptops for One Handed Typists!

Finally! There are laptops for one handed typists!

See least expensive option at Amazon

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Overview Adaptive Keyboard For One Hand  
One Hand QWERTY | Half QWERTY Half Keyboard | Maltron One Handed Keyboard | BAT One Handed Keyboard | One Hand Dvorak | Alphasmart For One Hand Typing