Type with one hand or two

A keyboard that can be programmed for single-handed interaction drew audience interest yesterday at the Interagency Disability Educational Awareness Showcase in Washington. The PC peripheral from Matias Corp. of Rexdale, Ontario, changes from standard layout to half-QWERTY via a special '1/2' key at the far right.

Each key shows two characters, one from the usual QWERTY layout and the other from its opposing key on the other side. The user can alternate from one character to the other on the same key by holding down the space bar with a thumb and typing with the other four fingers as usual. Carpal tunnel sufferers and those with limited mobility who use the keyboard with one hand may be limited in typing speed, however.

The $595 Half-QWERTY keyboard is compatible with both Mac OS and Microsoft Windows. It attaches to a PS/2 or Universal Serial Bus interface and requires no drivers to install or use.

When I tried the keyboard one-handed in the GCN Lab for a week, I gradually worked up to my usual typing speed. But it was even better to type with only one hand and move the mouse with the other, so that I could navigate through applications or make edits in a word processor even faster than with a standard keyboard.

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