I have an ironic sense of humor, but I’m finding it harder to laugh about this article placement. At first I was bemused, but now I’m just irritated. What in the hell is an article by Lilly Walters doing on RSI awareness websites? As someone whose musculoskeletal problems have been further complicated by RSI in my good hand, I don’t find it funny. Do these people not read the submissions before they post them? Walters is entitled to her opinions, certainly, but from an informational standpoint, her opinions are nothing but counterproductive when applied to RSI and its risk factors, especially for a one handed person. Walters may have a right hand and two of her left fingers, but she has no clue. I want to outline some points. Please bear with me to the end of this post.
Walters begins her article by saying, “Those of us in rehabilitation therapy help children and adults with disabilities enhance their lives, increase their independence and productivity.”
First of all — WALTERS IS NOT AN OCCUPATIONAL THERAPIST, OR ANY MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL WHATSOEVER. SHE IS A FACE PAINTER. Just look on any of her home pages. In addition, her first sentence is plagiarized from the mission statement of rehabtool.com. Misrepresenting yourself just to sell a $50 typing manual is just a little bit unethical. So is shilling your self published books on Amazon. (So, arguably, is buying nearly every single web domain related to one handed typing. “Fanatical” is more of a word for that though, I think.)
Second, how could anyone even buy her false credential? If you were a true member of the helping professions and had ever seen someone struggling with injury, you would NOT say the following: “In our world of terrific technologies, we happily embrace the new alternatives. But there is something glaringly wrong in that circle of embrace for the one hand typist.” You would also not say this: “If one hand has good usage, then, although harder on the hands, the standard one hand QWERTY is perhaps the best choice.” What occupational therapist would encourage you to do something that they know presents high risk? (And who would be so melodramatic about it?)
Also, while therapists do begin by suggesting the least complicated solution and working up from there if more accommodation is needed, I don’t think any therapist would ever outright condemn assistive technology as “glaringly wrong.” They understand the importance of prevention now. They would be more likely to promote caution and steadiness — I doubt they would egg you on by demanding that you be “the fastest, most competent person.” While competency is certainly necessary, the competitiveness implied by the emphasis on speed is certainly not. ACCURACY AND COMFORT ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN SPEED. Walters may type 40 to 80 words per minute, but her manual borders on illiterate, as does her website. Typos don’t help your credibility, and it helps to know the difference between “dominant” and “dominate.” She spells Dvorak as “Dvoark” all over the place, which makes me think of aardvarks. If you’re going to badmouth something you haven’t tried, have the courtesy to spell it right.
Walters blows her cover here, and her reasoning is specious to boot. Her evangelism for QWERTY and condemnation of anything else seems rooted in several things. Foremost, she needs to push her typing manual, of course. I can only assume that’s why she lies that Dvorak cannot be found in the workplace. Hello — get administrative rights and activate the Dvorak layout in your OS. One-handed keyboards are portable; you will find them in the workplace if you bring them with you. Then, judging by the number of times the word “normal” is written “NORMAL” in both her manual and her many websites, as well as her declaration of “smug pride” that she doesn’t need any adaptive equipment, she’s very insecure about herself. She’s afraid of being different. That’s why she’s willing to tell you to risk your hand — she’s projecting her fear of looking different on to you by saying, “Selecting an alternative keyboard makes the user feel apart from their peer group.”
Don’t put words in my mouth — I’ll do whatever I have to to keep my remaining hand function, and I’m indebted to the Maltron and other technology for helping me do that. I was able to work with my peers because I had the equipment to do so. If I didn’t have my keyboard or Dragon NaturallySpeaking, I wouldn’t have been able to do my internship. In fact, I received many compliments on my keyboard. My assistive technology enables me to be included — it doesn’t isolate me in the slightest, thanks very much.
This article does not belong on RSI websites that under any other circumstances would be advocating ergonomic keyboards like Maltron or layouts such as Dvorak, as well as speech recognition. I think the picture of Walters’ typing manual says it all: a hovering one armed Superman in a business suit and slick cheesy smile, supporting his entire weight on his fingertips, which are apparently resting on a flat QWERTY keyboard. If that posture isn’t asking for RSI, I don’t know what is.