Introduction - One Hand Typing and One Handed Keyboards
An overview of all of the one hand typing options, one hand keyboards and alternative keyboard layouts like One Hand Dvorak. Including how to analyze which is best for each person.
I type with one hand. I lost most of my left hand when I was 10 years old in an accident. By High School I was able do from 40 - 80 wpm, depending on the amount of diet soda and sleep I had! I was usually the fastest typist in my class - competing on the same NORMAL keyboard with my two handed peers (no adaptive equipment). See video clip of how I type.
Today I have over 22 books and eBooks in the marketplace, several best sellers. I typed every word of those manuscripts myself. I feel very strongly that typing on the same keyboard all of my two handed peers use has been a very good thing for my self-esteem, my employability and thinking skills in general.
Why? When considering which alternative is best, you must answer these questions first:
Below we will explore each of those issues for the One Handed Typist:
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HOW FAST WILL THE USER BE ABLE TO TYPE ONCE THEY ARE ACCOMPLISHED?
Most people - one and two handed typists - do what is called the "hunt and peck." They look at the keys, and just use a few fingers to search out the keys. A two handed typist normally can hunt and peck at between 15 - 27 words per minute. As does a one-handed typist!
If you want to type faster than that - with one or two hands - you must learn HOW TO TYPE without looking at the keys. A system called touch typing.
Speed of the accomplished one handed typists seems to be about the same on all of the systems available. In theory, those using One Handed Dvorak should be faster. But research shows that is just not the case. Besides, there are just not enough people who went on with One Handed Dvorak (or any of the other adaptive systems) to confirm that theory.
Many professionals come to us wanting a system, or alternative keyboard that will enhance speed for the user. But, no matter which system you choose, the user with never gain speed, unless they spend months PRACTICING.
We cannot hand you Stradivarius violin, and assume you will be a great violinist within hours.
There is no getting around you cannot gain speed - ON ANY SYSTEM - without months of diligent practice.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE A ONE HANDED TYPIST TO LEARN THE ONE HANDED SYSTEM?
Learning time will be fastest -- for those who never were speed touch typists -- if they use the normal keyboard and One Hand Qwerty. Most people have at least played with a normal keyboard and have a vague idea where the keys are.
Some feel learning time will be faster for those who WERE speed touch typist with two hands before their disability if they use Half Qwerty. Again, this is hard to judge, as most people will not stick with any alternative.
As to how long it actually is going to take, well how long did it take you to learn to read? How long did it take the person in the desk next to you?
How long it takes to learn one hand typing has NOTHING to do with using one hand one two. It will depend on the user. Some memorize where the keys are -- without looking -- in a few hours. For others, it takes a few months.
WILL THE MANUFACTURER OF THE ALTERNATIVE BE AROUND IN 10 YEARS?
Of course we can only guess at the answer to this. But if we look at the life span of the average small computer manufacturer, then we have cause to worry. A fun little alternative keyboard, the FrogPad, was out for a few years. Now, those users are all frustrated since they are no longer manufactured.
What will your user do if they are trained on an alternative keyboard, which eventually breaks down, and the company is gone? Well, they will go back to hunting and pecking on the normal Qwerty keyboard and start over learning what I suggest you try in the first place.
One thing is fairly certain, when the starship Enterprise really does launch, there is going to be a normal QWERTY keyboard on board.
WILL THE USER STAY WITH THE ALTERNATIVE?
I did a survey every few years, the last was to over 9000 people: OT's, teachers, amputees, and many others with disabilities. I asked them, "Of any of the people you know, who were taught to use an alternatives to a normal keyboard, how many are now actually using that alternative in the workplace?"
It seems to me that 99% of those trained on one of these alternatives leave them in the closet, and instead hunt and peck on a NORMAL keyboard.
Because the majority of two handed people in most workplaces, in schools, and at play, are just hunt and pecking anyway. Our one-handed can get the same speed as his two handed friends. Why should he use an adaptive device and forever be put in the position of being "different"?
Since our one handed user is going to use a normal keyboard, regardless of what he was taught in rehab, why not spend that precious time learning to have competitive touch typing skills? Then, our one handed friend can be the fastest, most competent person, regardless on the number of hands he has!
IS THE "GOOD" HAND STRONG? CAN IT TAKE THE BURDEN NORMALLY SHARED BY TWO HANDS?
If one hand has good usage, then, although harder on the hands, the standard ONE HAND QWERTY is perhaps the best choice for two reasons.
One: value in the job market.
The reality is, the easier it is to bring someone into the workplace, the more appealing they are as an employee.
Two: Self value.
Selecting an alternative keyboard makes a user feel apart from their peer group. Being adept at the tool the others use at work and at play, the standard keyboard, gives their self esteem and self value a tremendous boost.
WILL THE REASON THE HAND/ARM IS DISABLED GO AWAY WITH TIME? PERHAPS AN INJURY THAT WILL HEAL?