There are a range of options open to pupils using one hand on the keyboard.
Holding down more than one key at a time is difficult if you are using one hand.
There is software built in to Windows (accessibility options) called StickyKeys that allows you to press one key at a time and instructs Windows to respond as if the keys had been pressed simultaneously. This is very useful for upper case letters in word processing. We have a skill sheet that gives a step by step guide to StickyKeys on www.cenmac.com
Pupils using one hand on the keyboard may benefit from using smaller keyboards which present keys in a more compact area, and therefore require less movement. These are similar in size to those found on laptop computers. It is important that the keyboard is placed in a comfortable position for easy operation. This can be more easily achieved with a compact keyboard which CENMAC can loan. Keyguards are also available for some of the models.
The numeric pad on a standard keyboard is located on the right hand side of the keyboard – this can present left handed users with a considerable stretch. Number pads can be purchased such as the Cherry Pad, available from: Inclusive Technology, Keytools, Keyboard Company, Access Keyboards
Touch Typing with One Hand
By redefining the standard home keys (fghj) it is possible to learn to touch type using one hand. A software based typing tutor, Five Finger Typist, is available from Inclusive Technology and there is a useful website: www.fivefingertypist.com (click the British link near the top for the British language version of this page). Other sources of information and free demo trials (*) of software are available on the following websites:
- www.typeonehand.com/demowin.html (*)
- one-hand-typing.typingstar.com (*)
The standard QWERTY layout is not optimised for single handed use. Dvorak layouts for right and left handed use attempt to correct this. Alphabetic keys are relocated to one side of the keyboard, using all four rows, with numbers being positioned to the side. These layouts are already available in Windows. It would advisable to use keyboard stickers to mark the new keyboard layout. These can be given by CENMAC.
Single Handed Keyboards
Maltron keyboards which have been specifically designed for single handed use. They require good dexterity and have been designed for touch typing using 4 fingers and thumb. Latching facilities are built-in to the modifier keys. They use a non-QWERTY layout, and are supplied with exercises to teach the layout. The Maltron keyboard is available from Maltron and more information can be found here –
Chord keyboards have only a few keys and rely on keys being pressed in combination to generate letters. They therefore work well for single handed users with independent movement in each of their fingers.
Speeding up Keyboarding
The following techniques can increase keyboarding speed:
After typing the first few letters of a word predictive software gives a number of words starting with those letters. To complete the word the user simply selects one of the words offered. For longer words this can offer speed improvements.
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Most word processors have facilities to store blocks of text against a particular word or keystroke. These are often called macros, but also go by other names: glossary: Autotext etc. Once a macro is defined it can be entered anywhere in the current document by using a short keystroke or word.