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 at the ankle of the foot upwards towards the leg, typically reducing the angle formed by the foot and leg to typically 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.

Ergonomic Professional - An individual trained in one of several academic and/or practical studies of ergonomics.  Some of the most common ergonomic 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 uses 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, i.e. when facing forward perpendicular to the plane of the body.  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 keycap on a keyboard 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).

Midline - The median plane of the body, i.e. a line from the top to the bottom of an individual, through the nose, 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 which have 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) raises as one 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 using 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.

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.

Touch Typist - An individual who has developed muscle memory and has memorized the location of all the keys on the keyboard.  This allows 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 December 9th, 2013

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