Your Guide to 10+ One-hand Typing Options

Here’s a guide to currently available methods and devices for one-hand typing. If you need to type with one hand due to a limb difference, stroke, or other motor impairment, this guide will help you sort through your options for productive typing.

One-handed typing: What's available?  Pictures show 3 example options -- one-hand touch typing, tapping codes on touchscreen, and a chorded keyboard in the palm

This post focuses on options for people who need to type using the fingers of a single hand, possibly with a bit of help from the other hand but often completely solo. Depending on your specific needs, it might work well to use a standard physical keyboard with one hand, but you might want to consider various options such as one-handed techniques, alternative keyboard layouts, or novel methods of text input. The key is to make an informed choice to make sure your one-hand typing method truly meets your needs. In our last post, we described 12 considerations to think about when choosing a one-hand typing method. Here, we examine a variety of specific one-hand typing options that are available and see how they stack up on those considerations.

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12 considerations for choosing a one-handed typing method

One-handed typing can be a useful option if you have a disability involving one of your hands, and there are a surprising number of options for typing with one hand. Here are some key issues to consider when choosing a one-handed typing method.

One-handed typing: 12 key considerations. Photo of someone typing with their right hand on a keyboard.

What do we mean by one-handed typing?

At the risk of stating the obvious, we’re talking about typing using the fingers of a single hand, possibly with a bit of help from the other hand but often completely solo. The most basic one-handed typing method is to use a standard physical keyboard with one hand instead of two, requiring more movement of the typing hand and arm, and reducing opportunities to touch-type. Because of these limitations, a number of other options for one-handed typing have emerged over the years.

This post was inspired by a question to the QIAT listserv, asking about typing options for a middle school student born with only one hand. You might benefit from a one-handed typing method if one of your hands functions pretty well but the other has limitations, perhaps due to a stroke. You might also benefit if you need to avoid using one of your hands due to repetitive stress injury or pain, or if you are in a hands-busy environment where one hand just isn’t available for regular touch typing.

By choosing the one-handed typing method that best meets your needs, you can have an efficient and comfortable way to enter text using only one hand. Read on for some key considerations that will help you make a good choice.

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Compass version 3.0 released

KPR has released Compass version 3.0, which offers better compatibility with speech recognition input. Get your free trial and take the guesswork out of assistive technology assessments.

Compass version 3.0 released
We’ve updated Compass, KPR’s software for access assessments. If you’ve had any difficulties using speech recognition with Compass in the past, give this new version a try. And if you’ve never tried Compass before, now is a great time!

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How to measure performance when typing with Morse code

Morse code is an intriguing access option for people who use switches. Here’s how to measure performance when typing with Morse, to see how well it’s working for you and how it compares to other access methods.

How to measure performance when typing with Morse code. Screenshot shows inset of iPad Morse keyboard and the Word test from Compass software.

Morse code can be an effective way to type using only one or two switches. For some people who need switch-based access due to physical impairments, Morse might work as well or better than methods such as switch scanning. Reports of typing speed with Morse in the literature are encouraging but sparse. And in the end, what matters most is how well it works for a given individual. To address that, we need to measure typing performance with Morse.

How do we do that, in a way that’s accurate, straightforward, and time-efficient? We’re going to use KPR’s Compass software for access assessment to measure our Morse typing speed and accuracy. This post describes how to do this and shows you how it went the first time I used Morse code.

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Learn Morse code with the Morse Typing Trainer

The Morse Typing Trainer is a website that helps you learn Morse code. It helped me learn the letter codes in about 30 minutes. This post shows you how to use the Morse Typing Trainer and gives you an idea of what it does and does not do.

Learn Morse code with the Morse Typing Trainer. Screenshot showing the code for E: a dash used as a pupil in an Eyeball.

The introduction of Morse code text entry for iOS and Android has lowered the barrier for trying Morse code as an access method for people who use switches. In earlier posts, I’ve described how to set up Morse code on the iPad and reviewed the typing speeds that have been reported for experienced Morse users. But what’s a good way to learn Morse code in the first place? And how long does it take? The Morse Typing Trainer is a new resource to make this fairly easy and fun.

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Morse code for access: what do we know?

Morse code has been used in assistive technology since at least the 1970’s to support typing using one or two switches. This post summarizes what we know about typing performance for Morse code users with physical disabilities, and how it compares to other switch-based text entry methods.

The Morse code keyboard for the Gboard app, showing dot and dash keys.
Morse code can be an effective way to type using only one or two switches. It’s been around for decades as an assistive technology (AT) that can be used by people with high-level spinal cord injuries (often with a sip/puff switch), severe cerebral palsy, or other conditions that cause significant physical impairments.

This post was inspired by a question sent to the RESNA AT-FORUM listserv by Craig Wadsworth of the Illinois AT Program and Debra and Thomas King, long-time advocates of Morse code. They are trying to gather info from people who are using Morse or have helped someone use it, in order to build a firmer knowledge base about using Morse effectively.

Their question got me thinking about what we really know about the viability of Morse relative to other switch-based methods such as switch scanning.

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Visualizing text entry data: which design do you prefer?

We’re working on some new ways to visualize the text entry data within AT-node, and we need your feedback! Take a look at some designs and let us know what you think.

Visualizing text entry data: your feedback needed
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Compass: now available at Westminster Technologies

KPR’s Compass software for access assessment is now available at Westminster Technologies, a complete provider of assistive technology solutions.

Compass software is now available at Westminster Technologies
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AT-node: explore the data on typing with assistive technology

How fast can people with physical disabilities type when using different assistive technologies? Find out with our free AT-node for access website. Use the evidence to enhance your understanding.

I’ve mentioned our free AT-node website in other posts (like this one with a neat infographic), without really demonstrating what it is, so in this post, I want to give you a quick introduction to using the AT-node website.
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Better typing with keyboard assistive technology

Here’s another great example of how a simple change to a user’s computer setup can make a big difference, in this case using keyboard assistive technology. Read on for a summary of this 2018 case study from the University of Bordeaux.

Better typing with keyboard assistive technology. Photo on the left shows original keyboard, with user typing with left hand. Hand is partially curled up, with index and middle fingers extended. Photo on the right shows keyboard with assistive technology to enhance typing: keyguard, angled stand, and forearm rest.
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