RSI and Keyboard

Question: I am now looking at the ergonomics of my workstation, with some advice from my physiotherapist. Regarding the mouse, she advised that I should try and position it so that I can keep my elbow close to my body and just move my hand i.e. I shouldn’t have to stretch my arm out to reach it. However I don’t find this possible for the following reasons:

I am right-handed and use the mouse with my right hand. I have a normal PC keyboard which is positioned in front of the monitor with the QWERTY section centered on the monitor so that my arms are balanced when typing text. However because there are two blocks of keys to the right of the QWERTY keys (arrow block and numeric block) the mouse ends up well out to the right of the monitor and I have to stretch to use it. I have short arms which don’t help. I have a curved desk which helps a bit but not enough. What I really want is a keyboard where the arrow and numeric blocks are on the left of the QWERTY keys. Does such a thing exist?

Answer 1: Posturite (01323 833353) do a keyboard that has a separate numeric keypad and the cursor keys are part of the QWERTY area. This means the mouse would be about 1 inch to the right of the return key. Cost is 92 ukp plus 34 ukp for the numeric keypad. If you belong to the RSIA you will have recieved the Posturite catalogue with one of the newsletters in the last year! Several other manufacturers do a ‘splittable’ keyboard.

Answer 2: Our new keyboard has a trackball in the centre. The model before this is the same width as your standard keyboard but has the number pad in the centre and cursor keys in the thumb groups. This would enable you to have the mouse much closer as you suggest. We also have a much more ergonomic mouse.

Answer 3: Posturite sell an Electronic keyboard with separate number pad which can be positioned on the left or right. This combination works well, but the keyboard does have a fairly “clicky” feel and is quite noisy. Whether you like this or not is a personal preference issue! Another (more expensive) alternative is a cherry ergo-plus keyboard which also has a separate numeric keypad. The ergo can be used as a flat keyboard, and has an adjustable split if you like that. There is also a separate numeric pad which you can connect directly into your keyboard port, then you plug into this your favourite keyboard. With number-lock off this can be a further set of cursor keys. We have purchased ours (in single units) from:
The Priory, Cosgrove, Milton Keynes, MK19 7JJ
Tel: 01908 265 533
Bennett House, 1 High Street, Edgware, HA8 7TA
Tel: 0181 952 7770

Nuala Davis
The Computability Centre

Answer 4: I read in yesterday’s Times 3-12-97 (Interface section) about a programmable keypad with 60 buttons on it. It is called ‘PC Dash’ and is made by Saitek. The buttons are programmed by inserting a bar-code that is produced on a printer using software supplied with the keypad. You can get each key to do multiple key-strokes. Unfortunately there is no price in the article. Contact Saitek 01454 855050. 

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