Ergopedia Contents

Risk Factors and Sources of Injury

Injuries and Conditions

Ergonomic Product Categories

Anthropometric Considerations

What are the Symptoms

Ergonomic Concepts



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Anthropometrics - The study of the physical characteristics of an individual, specifically the height, weight, length and proportion of each of their body parts, to understand and take into account physical variation when evaluating and designing products.

Comfort Zone - The comfort zone of an individual refers to a prescribed physical area where they can comfortably reach and perform repetitive activities without excessive strain

Dorsiflexion - The bending of the foot upwards at the ankle, bring the toes toward the leg, typically reducing the angle formed by the foot and leg to less than 90 degrees.

Embedded Numeric Keypad - A numeric keypad which solely resides on the second layer of a keyboard and is accessed through a shift access or toggle access. Instead of having dedicated physical keys and space allocated to it typically to the right of the enter key, the 10-key functions are enabled once access is granted. The primary benefits of this are a smaller footprint for the keyboard.  Note: This does not refer to the number row on a keyboard.

Ergonomics Professional - An individual trained in one of several academic and/or practical studies of ergonomics. Some of the most common ergonomics professionals include Ergonomists, Kinesiologists (Kins), Occupational Therapists (OTs) and Human Factor Engineers.

Elbow Abduction - To move the elbow away from the midline of the body, typically by use of muscles in the shoulder.

Function Row - The row of function keys at the top of a keyboard, above the Number row, i.e. F1, F2, F3 etc.

Gas Spring - A spring which employs compressed gas, contained in a cylinder and compressed by a piston, to pneumatically exert a force. Common applications include height adjustment in seating products, premium monitor arms, and foot rests.

Hunt-and-Peck Typist - An individual who must identify the location of each key on the keyboard by sight before targeting with their finger. Typically these users will use only their 2nd finger when typing, and must routinely check the results of their typing on the screen to ensure no errors have been generated.

- Directly in front of the individual. When referring to placement of reference material, this would refer to putting documents above the keyboard and below the monitor, eliminating the need to reach to either side.

Key Pitch
- The space from the left edge of one keyboard keycap to the next. 19.4 mm is the standard key pitch found on most keyboards today with the exception of children's keyboards, mini-keyboards and some keyboards embedded in portable devices (laptops and netbooks).

Load Balancing
- Balancing the workload for a task between all available methods, for example using both hands to perform a task instead of just the dominant hand. When mousing, this would refer to using both hands to mouse. When keyboarding, it can refer to using the number row at the top of the keyboard (to allow two-handed numeric input) instead of a numeric keypad (which is typically only the right hand).

Low Force Keyswitches - Keyswitches which have a lower force associated with generating characters, which includes both the force when the character is generated (actuation force) and the peak force prior to the point at which the character is generated.

Midline - The median plane of the body, i.e. a line running through the nose from the top to the bottom of the body, which delineates the right and left half of the body.

Mousing Area - The physical area or footprint on the work surface required by a user to control the mouse when the acceleration is set at an appropriate level for the tasks the user is trying to perform. For most contemporary computer users who have monitors with a display resolution set at a minimum of 1024x768, the absolute minimum mousing area is 6" wide x 8" deep.

Number Row - The line of numbers at top of a keyboard, above the QWERTY row and below the Function Row. These are not the numbers in the numeric keypad (which are typically arranged in a grid similar to a calculator).

Plantarflexion - movement at the ankle joint that points the foot downwards away from the leg, or movement of the toes that curls them down towards the sole (compare to dorsiflexion)

Positively Inclined - This refers to when the plane of an object (e.g. a keyboard or keyboard tray) angles upwards as it moves away from the user. For example a positively inclined keyboard has Function keys (F1, F2, F3, etc.) at a higher elevation than the space bar, which results in the fingertips being higher than the palms when placed on the keyboard.

Shift Access - Refers to a keyboard action which requires the user to hold down a modifier key and then press another key in order to generate the desired keystroke.

Static Load - Muscles used in order to maintain a position or posture which is not moving.  E.g. Reaching outside the Comfort Zone for a mouse would put a static load the muscles in the back and shoulders, as the position of the arm would have to be held away from the body in order to reach the mouse.

Supination - Rotating the hand past the vertical "handshake" position towards a palms upward (or cupped) position.

Tactile Keyswitches - Keyswitches which have a higher resistance as the key is depressed (peak force) before the character is generated (actuation point).  This higher force provides a tactile indication that the keyswitch is about to fire, to provide an indication to stop  pressing the keycap down.

 Toggle Access - Refers to a keyboard action which requires the user to press and release a modifier key and then press another key in order to generate the desired keystroke. In order to return the keyboard to the default configuration the modifier key needs to be pressed and released a second time.

Touch Typist - An individual who has developed muscle memory and has memorized the location of all the keys on the keyboard. This enables this user to 'type by touch' and in theory, these users can often type in a completely dark room or on a keyboard where all the legends have worn off the keys.


Last edited July 20, 2018

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