I found this article today when I was reading about new designs for accessibility. The design is interesting to me because it uses a notion we already know to solve a problem. I’m not sure what it’s like to be without an arm or a hand, but for anyone that works in UX, accessibility is an important concern. I probably don’t do nearly enough to find out about specific designs or stay up to date about issues in accessibility. So today, I wanted to focus on the issue of building systems that work for people who are missing one arm.
(For the record, I have both my arms and I’m not an expert. I have exactly one friend who is missing an arm, and otherwise I’m not connected to this issue. Regardless, I think this is an important topic and an interesting topic.)
The problem that I saw (among the others noted by amputees in the comments section!) with the design above is that it may help amputees manipulate their physical world, but what about the online world? A mobile phone may not be so difficult to manipulate with just one hand, but what about a keyboard? This led me to search and read about one-handed keyboards. Instead of explaining all the options available, I’ll let a man with just one hand explain the options:
To recap his options were:
-Type with one hand on a normal keyboard
-Change the keyboard setting
-Buy a special keyboard
-Use a voice recognition program
I want to discuss another option called One Hand Keyboard. (I typed that last sentence using One Hand Keyboard and I’ve only had it for 10 min.)
One Hand Keyboard works like a combination of my phone’s auto-correct and a regular keyboard cut in half. It works by having you type a “mirror” key to indicate which key you meant and then auto-corrects. So, for example, if I use my ring finger to press the letter “S” with my left hand and “L” with my right hand, and I want to write the word “SALAD” with just my left hand then I press: SASAD. I press that combination with just my left hand and the program auto-corrects SASAD to SALAD.
I found the program pretty easy to use, and it is an interesting, new solution to this problem. One Hand Keyboard is also a much cheaper option. It costs around 150 dollars, while a one-handed keyboard can be much more expensive.
Another option is FrogPad:
I haven’t had the pleasure of trying out FrogPad personally, but it is an interesting re-design of a standard computer keyboard. From what I can gather the company was unable to continue producing the original FrogPad but has had success in creating software that works on the design they developed. Portability in both cases is a concern. While most companies are probably will willing to accommodate FrogPad and One Hand Keyboard users, the original FrogPad required users to tote their keyboard from place to place. The same is true of all one-handed keyboards. As a result, it seems that software will likely be the future of one-handed typing, since it is compatible with current systems. Both systems require a learning curve, but I was able to do pretty good on One Hand Keyboard after just a few minutes!
I invite anyone with more information on these issues to contact me.