Today is a hugely computerised world, with most office workers having a need to ‘access the system’ or send Emails to business colleagues and contacts. The result of such repetitive work can be a repetitive strain injury e.g. RSI (repetitive strain injury), tenoysynovitis, carpal tunnel syndrome etc.. As repetitive strain suggests, it is a result of doing something over and over again, causing tension and pain in the muscles and affecting performance both in work and tasks elsewhere. The answer to this problem was ergonomics.
The development of ergonomic keyboards came about to keep the hands and wrists well supported during hours of repetitive movement, thus lessening the strain and preventing possible invisible injury.
One type of ergonomic keyboard offers a curved layout of the keys. This makes sense, since all your fingers are different lengths and don’t naturally meet the keyboard with equal comfort. By placing your fingers on the home keys, you can see that s, d and f and also l, k and j happily lie on the keys but the two little fingers don’t meet the ‘a’ or the semicolon (;), without a twist of the wrist. That ever so slight twist helps the little fingers touch the keys but brings the elbows outwards from the body and also has an effect on each shoulder and upper arm.
The split keyboard design does just what its name says: it pivots from the top and its two parts can be laid in several different positions, once again allowing for comfort when typing.
There are also one-handed keyboards, to make typing accessible to those who have only one functional hand (e.g after a stroke). One particular keyboard is concave in layout. With this design, the Qwerty keyboard rules no longer apply, since the keys are arranged in such a way that accessing the most popular keys feels natural and the lesser used keys are placed outside the main key range. Other one-handed keyboards are called half keyboards and still honour the Qwerty layout so, it’s down to need and preference, as to which to choose. For the beginning typist, the concave system has lots to offer and it is said that one can reach typing speeds of up to 85 wpm (words per minute). An established Qwerty typist would have to re-learn the concave keyboard, so the half keyboard would seem the natural choice.
Ergonomics has come a long way since its inception and really is looking at what is best for the user. Seeking the knowledge and purchasing the right ergonomic accessories will make for happier people and, without doubt, have a positive effect on the users and the shared environment.