Monday, March 4, 2013

Monday Mailbox ~ Typing One Handed Revisited

It's Monday again and time to answer your questions.
With the influx of new readers from the stroke communities my previous blog about Typing with One-Hand Tied Behind Your Back has received almost 500 hits. The blog itself has reached 5,000 hits since January.

Most of the questions in my email account were evenly tied between the typing blog and praise for my Platform blogs. Since I had already revisited platforms it was time to visit typing again.

With the advent of my stroke I went from typing with two hands averaging speed roughly between 95WPM to 120WPM which was extremely helpful in producing six books for sale last year. I could type as fast as my mind could create. Not only had I received cognitive damage, which I've mentioned the struggle many times here, but I also lost the use of my right hand.

I might mention here that the kernels for stories and characters never stopped just my ability to get them all down in an understandable way stopped. The creative juices are still flowing. I'm thankful for this blessing, but there are limits to what I accomplish. Last year I set a goal to type one-handed 45WPM corrected by the end of February. I'm only managing 40WPM sometimes and it is March. Did I fail? Nope. I set the goal too high. Am I going to quit? No on my life. I passed my typing class way back when by typing a meer 60 WPM and work my way up to 120WPM. I'll increase my spped with practice.

When I first started typing with one hand, it was more a hunt and peck type of typing. My fingers of my left hand didn't know where ALL the keys were. I had to learn a new finger position to type one handed. I searched the internet for ways to touch type one-handed. I'll admit all the sites wanted to sell me a program to teach me.

I looked at all kinds of specialty keyboards. Some I'd have to learn a whole new key system. You might be able to teach an old dog new tricks, but it takes forever to unlearn and relearn. The keyboards were sky-high in price and comparable to a new brace or splint. I just couldn't justify the cost when I was working towards getting the use of my hand back. It would become almost useless as the dozens of braces, splints, crutches, and other must haves for injuries in the past. Just collecting dust in a closet or in the attic.

Getting back to the keyboards, I hit upon a brilliant idea. Putting away my ergonomic split keyboard for future use. I broke out the original white keyboard which came with my computer. I took the chart above and took markers and colored my keys to match the picture above. It was slow going at first as with anything new you try. At first it was still the hunt and peck method but I was using all my fingers effectively now.

But I ran into a problem. My hand from pinky tip to thumb tip measures six inches. I have little hands and dainty fingers. My ring finger wears a size four ring but needs a five to get past the knuckle. A standard QWERTY keyboard measures eleven and a half to twelve  inches across. It was just too big to reach the keys without taking my fingers out of position from the home keys.

I started searching for a smaller keyboard. This is what I bought.  It's the Gear Head 89-key keyboard that's just 6.2 inches wide. A Windows mini keyboard that accounted for a 20WPM jump in my typing speed. No it doesn't have a keypad which accounts for fifteen of the missing keys off my 104-key keyboard. Yes I bought a separate key pad because most standard keyboards have the key pad on the right side of the keyboard which is very awkward for a left handed typist anyhow. AND it was cheap! Less than $20 for both.

"But Jo, instead of buying all these new things wouldn't it be easier to use you laptop?" Yes, it would be but my laptop shuts down after twenty minutes because of heat sensor issues.
"But they make fans to go under them." Yes and over the last three years I've bought seven of those. The problem with most laptops is the fan inside of them that is supposed to keep the CPU (central processing unit- the brains) cool are too small to do the job. I know, I know some of you have laptops which will run all day, but I bought mine when it was relatively a new thing. It should be replaced, but right now I've got more important things vying for my dollars.

It has taken a lot of time punching away at these keys to build my speed up to 40WPM. As you can see, the typing has gotten better. It used to take me an hour to type out a simple email or less than a two hundred-word blog. Today this has taken  less than half an hour for 800 words that includes searching for copyright free pictures. That's progress.

Keep writing and loving the Lord.


  1. That color coding is amazing, Jo. If I ever need to know this, I'll be asking you for the info again. Though, my hands reach further, I might make it without an new keyboard.

    If I haven't said it lately, you're amazing!

    1. Zan Marie,
      You make my day! Ask away anytime.

  2. Melissa,
    Tenacity is another word for down right stubborn. lol


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