Almost 10% to 15% of the population is left-handed, but most manufacturers don’t think about them when designing a product. If you are a left-hander, you would know the pain of using right-handed keyboards and other peripherals when typing or gaming. Left-handed keyboards are here to remit your daily struggle.
As the name suggests, left-handed keyboards are exclusively designed for left-handed people. They feature some design tweaks that eliminate the struggle of left-handers in their work. These keyboards help them maintain the correct postures and be more efficient.
If you are a left-hander, it does not make sense to use a device designed for right-handed people. When you are spending money on a product, you must want it to be comfortable to use. Dive deep into knowing what a left-handed keyboard, its ergonomics, uses, and pros and cons.
What Is a Left-handed Keyboard?
The standard keyboards in the market are designed for right-hand users. These products have the numeric keypad on the right side of the unit. This design is ideal for right-handers who don’t need to stretch their arms to reach the Numpad and mouse. Obviously, such a layout is not right for left-handers. The ergonomic is off, and the key setup is quite uncomfortable for them.
A left-handed keyboard is similar to a right-handed one except for the placement of some certain keys. In these products, the keypad and arrow keys are placed on the left side of the keyboard. However, some models could have the arrows on the right side.
So, the keypad setup of a left-handed keyboard follows this order: Numpad on the left> navigation cluster in the middle > and alphanumerics on the right side.
Such a design change creates a more ergonomic typing setup and eliminates reaching for left-handers. They can access the number pad and navigation arrows more easily with their dominant hand, allowing for quicker and more accurate operation.
What Are Wireless Left-Handed Keyboards?
These are left-handed keyboards with a wireless connecting system. They use either a radio frequency (RF) or Bluetooth connectivity.
RF keyboards use a small USB dongle to establish a connection with the transceiver, i.e., the laptop or personal computer. Bluetooth keyboards operate by connecting to the Bluetooth function of a computer.
Wireless keyboards run on battery power. Some use dry cell batteries that need replacement when their power runs out. This is not a cost-effective solution since you need to purchase new batteries at regular intervals. Peripherals with rechargeable batteries are the most common and save extra costs.
Some expensive left-handed keyboards come with their own software. You can program the device and assign functions to various keys to fit your own work requirements.
Ergonomics of a Left-Handed Keyboard – Is It More Ergonomic?
Of course, a left-handed keyboard would be more ergonomic for left-handed users. It allows them to use their left hand naturally. These keyboards help with a balanced work distribution for both hands. No need to extend your left hand awkwardly across the keypads to reach the arrows and numbers.
Due to the different positions of the keys, left-handed keyboards are highly compatible with ambidextrous mouses. As these mouses are a perfect fit for both hands, you can keep it to any side according to your convenience.
The ergonomics of left-handed keyboards are so on point that people other than left-handers can also get benefits from them. For instance, people who have limited hand function or are one-handed can use these accessories without any problem.
Right-handed people can also be benefitted from these keyboards. Numpad on the left side means there’s no need to repetitively move your right hand, wrist, and arm between the alphabetic and numeric keypads.
Also, left-handed keyboards clear up more space on the right side for right-handers, allowing them to bring the mouse closer to their reach. Having the mouse within your reach reduces the possibility of bad posture-related issues.
What Are the Crucial Ergonomic Features?
Just like a standard keyboard, a left-handed keyboard too has to have some design attributes for being user-friendly. If you want a left-handed keyboard to be highly ergonomic, they need to have these following features:
Low Force Keys
It’s not good for your fingers and wrists to apply much force on the keys when typing. Imagine making hundreds of keystrokes per day and putting immense pressure on various muscles and bones of your hands.
Low force keys require less energy to be depressed and activated. For example, their actuation force is 35 to 45 g, while the keys on a standard keyboard require 50 to 60 g. A low actuation force means a light touch is enough to register the keystrokes.
The majority of keyboards these days have rubber membranes underneath the keys. Due to having little tactile feedback of these membranes, it’s hard to figure out the exact force to register a keystroke.
Mechanical keys have higher tactile feedback. Also, there is no need to press the keys all the way down for a successful keystroke. Typing on a keyboard with mechanical switches guarantees less fatiguing of hands.
To prevent pronation, the wrists have to be in a neutral position at the time of typing. Avoiding flat keyboards is the best way to keep wrists healthy. To reduce the risk of Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSIs), the keyboard has to have a latent inclination. An adjustable tenting option is the best way to ensure the right postures.
An ergonomic keyboard with a separate keypad could be another option too. Some people find it more convenient when they can adjust the position and elevation of the keyboard.
The Pros and Cons of Left-handed Keyboards
Like any other computer accessories, it’s normal that left-handed keyboards also have their advantages and downsides. Let’s discuss the features that make them so useful along with a few negative aspects.
How Are the Keyboards Useful?
Good for upper body muscles. Left-handers need to stretch their hands in unnatural positions when using a traditional right-handed keyboard. The repetitive back and forth movements for hours every day injure the active muscles. Using left-handed keyboards will prevent the stretching of arm muscles, preventing fatigue and injuries.
Prevent bad shoulder postures. These keyboards allow placing the mouse closer to the line of your shoulder. This new mouse position lets you operate it by keeping your hand close to your body. It prevents overextending of the shoulder joint, which may lead to several injuries over time. These keyboards provide sustained comfort and prevent RSIs.
Correct the wrist position. A right-handed keyboard throws the alignment of your hands and shoulders out of the window. The wrists also stay in an unnatural position when you type or play games. These left-handed keyboards help with keeping good postures. AS a result, you can avoid muscle ache, forearm numbness, wrist fatigue, and other health issues.
What Are the Negative Points?
Left-handed keyboards don’t have any disadvantages since they are exclusively designed to cater to the needs and body postures of left-handers. The right-handers may face some problems like muscle numbness, pain in bone joints, and more. However, they don’t really need to use these keyboards.
The only negative point could be adapting to the new keypad layout. If a left-hander is already accustomed to the right-hand keypads, they will need some time to adjust to the new outline.
Who Would Want to Use It?
It’s pretty obvious that people with a dominant left hand would be the primary users of these keyboards. These units have been designed based on their natural hand and wrist positions during typing.
Right-handers who suffer from pain in the right shoulder and arm would also want to use these keyboards. The position of the Numpad on the left side brings the mouse closer to the right shoulder width. As a result, right-handed users don’t need to overreach when using the mouse.
People who have just one hand or an injured right hand would also find it convenient to use these keyboards.
Are Left-Handed Keyboards Common?
No, they are not if you compare with the sheer number of keyboards available for right-handed people. However, with more focus on engineering user-friendly and ergonomic devices, you will find some left-handed peripherals on the market these days.
In fact, it’s not hard to get some variations in left-handed keyboards, especially in ergonomic and gaming categories. Renowned brands like Razer and Logitech have several keyboards for left-hand users. Whether it’s gaming or working in the office, using the right accessories always increases work efficiency.
If you are a left-hander, you should always use a left-handed keyboard when working in the office or home. It will help you type faster and save you from a bunch of repetitive stress injuries. Don’t take on an incorrect posture or a painful position to adapt to right-handed peripherals. Devices for left-handers are more or less available than they were a decade ago.