Author Topic: Left-dominant keyboard layout  (Read 3157 times)

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Offline Betja

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Left-dominant keyboard layout
« on: Tue, 02 March 2021, 09:03:55 »
Hi all,

Bit of an odd one this so apologies for the length. TL;DR: I'm looking for a layout that removes much of the downsides of QWERTY but also keeps a strong left hand dominance.


My right arm is amputated just below the elbow, but I can effectively press one key at a time with my right stump whilst also making use of all 5 digits of my left hand. Iíve only ever used QWERTY and basically developed my own style where the left hand covers the majority of the keyboard (I cover the usual keys used by those of you with two hands, plus the two centre columns with my left, the rest with my right stump). QWERTY ironically works quite well for this; itís left-hand bias (a bad thing for most) is a plus for me. I donít know exactly but Iím probably a 60-40 split for left hand vs right hand use on a QWERTY.

Iíve hacked away at this pretty well and can type fast but I am starting to get RSI in my right shoulder (place your left hand and right elbow on a keyboard at the same time and youíll get the idea of the strain I put on my right side). I recently tried a split keyboard (Ergodox) which is magic for resolving this issue. But thatís presented another issue; I canít reach the right-centre column with my left hand (Y,H,N in a QWERTY). Iím finding my right stump is taking more strain than it used to (offset by an easier time on my right shoulder).

That lead me to lots of layout research and this great forum which has been really useful. I can clearly see the benefits of moving more popular keys to the home row, reducing movement etc, but the majority of the layouts significantly shift the bias to either 50-50 left/right or slightly right-dominant (which makes perfect sense for most people).

I can just tweak existing layouts and put more popular keys on the left, but I lose all the hard work & thinking thatís gone into reducing finger movement etc with these layouts and was wondering if anybody has come across something that could help.

Things Iíve tried / looked into:
- DVORAK LH. This is a different use case to me (itís for ONLY the left hand, you place one hand in the middle of the keyboard and therefore it doesnít work well with a split keyboard). Also by not using my right stump I lose 1 of the 6 digits I have to use and it is very noticeable
- typeonehanded.com Same issue but keeps with QWERTY layout
- mirroring a standard layout like COLEMAK to reverse dominance. Can be good but Iím really looking for a stronger left-handed dominance - most new keyboard layouts fix QWERTY issues with uneven hand load but thatís what I need.

Sorry a very specific use case but any thoughts greatly appreciated!

Offline nevin

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Re: Left-dominant keyboard layout
« Reply #1 on: Tue, 02 March 2021, 09:25:28 »
couple suggestions... not exactly sure what will work best for you but here are some that i thought of...

check maltron, they do lots of input devices for various situations. little pricey but might give you some ideas...
http://www.maltron.com/

matias one handed keyboard (half-keyboard)
http://matias.ca/halfkeyboard/

keeb.io great inexpensive kits in lots of sizes of split keyboards. all totally programmable, make any keymap you like.
they have a BIG ortholinear keyboard called the BFO-9000 which might be a great inexpensive starting point.
https://keeb.io/

if you go with a split... would it help to raise the right half higher than the left so you can keep your shoulders straighter when typing? (adjust the keyboard to you rather than you adjusting to the keyboard)

depending on where you're at or your skill level (if you decide to build) i will help in any way i can whether it's helping you with the programming of a board or building a kit for you or helping you conjure up a design/layout that will suit you best (if it doesn't already exist)
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Offline tp4tissue

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Re: Left-dominant keyboard layout
« Reply #2 on: Tue, 02 March 2021, 12:24:11 »
Preserving the base Qwerty may be more efficient if you already have the feel of that side.

Then using layer shift to do some of the popular right hand keys will take care of the rest.

Qwerty is already very Left-Dominant.

If you were to re-arrange  you would optimize for the most common di-graph and tri-graph which require the right hand. and put them in spots where different fingers can attack them.

Don't think about it in terms of HOME-Row,  there's no such thing.

If we had to arrange for convenience,   234qwerasdf, capsloc, tab, tgh     These are the critical openings you have which can be utilized without a hand-lift. They all could be used for keys and to build common graphs.  It may be the case that you'd want an extra key repeated on both layers if it's extremely common to use the shifted keys together.

Offline Gorbon

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Re: Left-dominant keyboard layout
« Reply #3 on: Tue, 02 March 2021, 17:28:45 »
I recently tried a split keyboard (Ergodox) which is magic for resolving this issue. But thatís presented another issue; I canít reach the right-centre column with my left hand (Y,H,N in a QWERTY). Iím finding my right stump is taking more strain than it used to (offset by an easier time on my right shoulder).
On the Ergodox, you could perhaps remap the rightmost outer keys of the left half, to be the keys that you want (y, h, n). You could also move often used right-side keys (backspace, enter, comma, period, etc) to the thumb cluster and/or the other peripheral keys of the left half. Additional layers to move even more keys (e.g. right side numbers) to the left side, would also be a must.

I think with some clever optimizing, you can keep qwerty as is (since you are already familiar with it) and pack the left half with functionality. With a little bit of practice, I'm sure you'll fly faster than many two-handed folks.

Offline Betja

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Re: Left-dominant keyboard layout
« Reply #4 on: Wed, 03 March 2021, 06:47:23 »
Awesome thanks for these tips all. I've ordered a Moonlander and will play around with moving some of the most used keys over to left side.

Offline nevin

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Re: Left-dominant keyboard layout
« Reply #5 on: Wed, 03 March 2021, 08:14:59 »
great! :thumb: keep us posted on how it goes or if you have any further questions.
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Offline qeebored

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Re: Left-dominant keyboard layout
« Reply #6 on: Fri, 12 March 2021, 05:33:21 »
I am currently using the "swap hands" functionality in QMK and set it to trigger at a long space press. When I press and release space, I get a space, but if I keep it pressed, the keyboard layout is reversed, so I can reach the buttons on the opposite half of the keyboard with the same hand. The nice thing with this setup, is that the brain easily can mirror the hand movements between left and right hand, so I use my index finger on the right hand to reach all letters that the index finger on the left hand would press. If you are able to use press some keys with the right hand, it can be used for occasional letters and modifiers, such as shift, ctrl, etc., that are a bit cramped to press with one hand this way.