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Keyboards For One Handed Typing & Chording? 21

FullFrontalNerdity asks: "I recently hurt my wrist in a car accident, the net result being that I am forced to type with one hand due to the pain that typing normally causes. Needless to say, its slow, inaccurate and limits by ability to do my job (I'm a software developer). Does anyone have experience (good or bad) with one hand chording keyboards or other input methods that work well in a software development environment?" We have to realize that computer users may suffer from a disability or an injury. When injuries occur to the hands, it turns in to a computer user's nightmare. Are there keyboards out there that attempt to address this possibility so people with such problems aren't forced to use a device that really requires two hands?
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Keyboards For One Handed Typing & Chording?

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  • This [] Google search... Seems to be rich with options.
  • by voidzero ( 85458 ) on Thursday March 08, 2001 @11:36PM (#374999) Homepage
    Chording keyboards [] and the Datahand [] (one and two-handed models available).

    For those of you who want to minimise occupational typing injuries, have a look at the Typing Injury FAQ [].

  • here, see my friend's page at and look at the input pages...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I don't know if someone ever tried it, remember those morse code keys we use to see on old movies,(and on Independence Day , of course) well those evolved in autommated keys that if you push the key to one side is a dot, a dash to the other, if you keep it pressed it made it continuos ... ---, etc y remember someone once said that propperly trained operators at western union telegraph could be as fast or faster than any typist at the time, I believe those would cause a minimmum stress on wrists but would need training and a lot of practice. But an interesting hack anyway
  • I own a Datahand myself, and I am very pleased with it. I am also a frequent browser of, but have never come across a one-handed version of the Datahand. Are you sure there is one?

    In relation to the link you provided to the typing injury FAQ: If anyone needs motivation to care for your wrists, have a look at this poor fellows [] story about how he got Carpal Tunnel to the 10th degree and what he does about it [].

    Final note: I am about to modify my Datahand - disassemble it completely so it will be like two fat joysticks with keys on them - if you have a Datahand and wanna take part, contact me at webmaster @

  • No flamebait here. I really am limited to one handed typing until my wrist heals...
  • Well I mostly type with one hand anyways... But there are keyboard layouts designed for one handed typing, just find a driver and attack the keyboard with a screwdriver (to pull the keys off) And put them back on as appropiate. If the keyboard you use at work can't have this done to it, just buy a cheep one that can. There's also some company that makes something called the "half keyboard" that was featured on /. a while ago, which dosn't need drivers and works as a one handed keyboard, but iirc it costs like $100

  • I've had luck with remapping keyboards. (xmodmap under Linux, and various tools under Windows and Macintosh.)

    One site that has layouts for left-handed and right-handed Dvorak keyboards is here [] .

  • Call me dumb, but the thing you have bought only has 16 keys [] - what's up with that? Different modes I suppose, but the picture [] suggests that each key only has one use (there is a clearly marked 'A' on one button). I don't get it 8-)

  • I purchased a Twiddler II from HandyKey ( It should arrive on 3/10/01. I'll post my progress after I have a chance to practice. IRC as a training opportunity, who would have imagined... -dhs P.S. I injured myself in a car accident.

    You might find this helpful.
    Good luck. ~
  • ...voice?

    Though I must admit I have no idea what the state of voice is on Linux, Windoze voice is now very good with a juicy enough machine.
  • It's not yet available for PCs, but when it does come out you can try the Half Keyboard []
  • I'm writing this from my home office (so you'll have to look up web links yourself) and not from my workplace where I provide consultancy services for people in just your situation. My clients have various impairments and about 60 percent of them have upper limb difficulties (25 percent RSI, the rest due to other difficulties) like yourself.
    The following is given based on my experience as a consultant in this field, it may not be a comprehensive list and it always pays to be seen and fully assessed by a specialist in the field and try out any equipment he/she suggests before you spend your hard erned cash.

    There are a number of options for one handed keyboard use.

    1.. Use a compact keyboard it involves less stretching than with a normal keyboard and it's easier to position. Both factors reduce the risk of RSI type problems in your currently uninjured hand
    The qwerty layout also means there is no learning curve to tackle.
    Try the Cherry G84-4700 or the cheap ones made by Sagem.
    It might sound like a bit of a no brain solution but in my experience when people ask me for one handed keyboard solutions then a compact keyboard suits them best.

    2.. Learn to touch type using one hand - There's a typing tutor out there called... Wait for it... "One Handed Typing Tutor"

    3.. Try the one handed keyboards from Maltron - You didn't say which hand was affected but Maltron do both a left and a right hand version.
    The idea behing the Maltrons is that your fingers are all different lengths (funny how most designers of keyboards have not spotted this little known anatomical fact yet) so the keys are laid on the surface of a concave bowl.
    The layout is nowhere neare qwerty so there is a learning curve to get over but these keyboards are well constructed and designed - worth the money and effort.

    4.. Here's where we get really quite radical. I have experience of two chording keyboards.
    a) The CYKEY. Looks and feels a bit flimsy and I worry for its long term reliability. Very soft touch keys
    b) The BAT one hander. This unit has 7 keys (one for each finger and three for the thumb) and looks like it was built to be dropped from 40,000 feet compared with the CYKEY. Not cheap but worth it just for the build quality.

    5.. If you are using a PC then voice is becoming more like a viable option as each month passes. Dragon Naturally Speaking Professional allows the user to write macros to automate certain tasks and is quite a powerful input method.
    With the correct techniques (training, keeping the voice model clean, buying good mics and soundcards etc) you should be able to achieve and maintain a >98 percent accuracy. You may find that with your one handed keyboarding voice might blend in quite nicely to form part of the overall access solution.

    Hope this helps


  • I'm not very conversant with the Dvorak layout, but if I recall correctly, aren't there keyboard layouts that are set up for 2-handed, left-handed, and right-handed operation?

    I remember seeing that Microsoft had some of their keyboard layouts set up for Windows 3.1, and I got a glimpse of their layout. I've heard that Dvorak is more efficient as well, but that could be hype...

  • I recently purchased a Twiddler 2.
    Thier web sit is I found it on the above mentions web site for rpi.

    It is a one handed cording key board with an IBM trackpoint mouse on it.
    It is programable, I have reprogramed my to optimize the alpha and numerics as the default settings were alphabetical and non-keypad respectively.
    This version connects to any PS/2 keyboard or mouse port.
    So far I have been very happy. I using a lot with my laptop and my computer at work, both are NT. I have tried it with my HP 712 but that did not seem to work. The keyboard was recalled due to firmware bug and I have not tried it on the 712 again.

    Be warned, there is a learning curve. The thing that is holding me back most is that I can type much faster on a standard keyboard, i think about words and sentances. When using the twiddler I am still thinking about letters, numbers, symbols. This should get better with time. I am at about 10 words a min now, which is real frustrating when I have deadlines.
  • I couldn't agree more. These keyboard look a lot like the Maltron units and are obviously based on the same principles of wrist positioning and finger length etc. I'd like to try one if they're available in the UK.
    Also this company sells sells a keyboard under the name MAXIM which appears to be a direct copy of a keyboard which Seimens-Nixdorf (SP?) have been selling for years. It has a variable split and variable tilt to accomodate two handed touch typing.
    For those of my clients which have use of both hands (albeit with RSI related pain) the Maxim/Seimens-Nixdorf (SP?) ergo keyboard is one of the most popular/indicated items in my armoury.
    Note: the Microsoft (and oft copied) "ergonomic" keyboard is a bloody good example of how not to build an ergonomic keyboard. This is due to a number of reasons but I really can't be bothered bashing another Micro$not product here in this forum.


  • actually, each key has 4 markings on it .... with the exception of the three for the index finger which have 2 markings

    the marking on the key itself in black is what you get if you press that key by itself

    the index finger keys have different colors, and if you press one of those, and another key, you get whatever is in that color. these are there as a memory aid etc, there are other chord combos too, but they aren't printed on the keyboard due to space constraints

  • You could use a half-QWERTY keyboard which is just the regular keyboard mirrored around the break between the t-b and y-n keys when you hold down the space bar. A patch [] exists for the Linux console and there is some expensive software [] for Windows. The nice thing about this is that you don't need new hardware. I tried this out and it is actually relatively easy to pick up.
  • There exist Dvorak layouts for both right, and left single handed keyboards.

    There also exists this nifty page about single handed typing:

    And atleast one company makes half keyboards:
  • I am surprised that this hasn't been mentioned yet.

    Check out the Infogrip BAT []. It's a cording keyboard. It can be used one-handed or in a pair. I used one of the prototypes 10 years ago in college. Looks like they've made it even better.

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