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Ergonomic Product Categories > Keyboards > Adjustable Keyboards          
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Adjustable Keyboards

What are Adjustable Keyboards?

An Adjustable Keyboard is a keyboard which is capable of being adjusted to the personal preferences of the individual.  Typically there are two aspects of conventional keyboards which adjustable keyboards modify by making what is typically a fixed tool (a rectangular, flat block) into a reconfigurable device - 'split' (or 'splay') and 'tent'.

What are the Ergonomic Benefits of an Adjustable Keyboard?

The first ergonomic benefit is derived from the introduction of a user-configurable 'splay' between the portion of the keyboard utilized by the left and right hand.  By changing the angle from perpendicular to the plane of the body of the user to a splayed orientation, Ulnar Deviation in the wrists when typing can be eliminated with a sufficient range of adjustment.  Now a theoretical line formed by the elbow, forearm, through the wrist and the middle finger of the user can be perpendicular to the keyboard without any twisting at the wrist. 

The second ergonomic benefit arises from the introduction of a user-configurable 'tent' in the keyboard.  By raising the planes of both sides of the keyboard and creating a 'thumbs up' posture, Pronation of the hands while typing is reduced, and can even be eliminated if the keyboard is adjusted to a vertical orientation.   

The third ergonomic benefit arises from the common design requirement that adjustable keyboards must be relatively symmetrical, and as such lack a discrete numeric keypad (typically opting for an embedded numeric keypad instead).  This helps to address the risk factor of Overextension for the mouse.
NOTE: The 'feet' at the back of many keyboards, while arguably a user-configurable adjustable feature, do not qualify those keyboards as being classified as "Adjustable Keyboards".  This is because deploying these feet will create a positive inclination in the keyboard, which leads to Wrist Extension, and actually introduces an inferior design element to the ergonomics of the keyboard.

What are Potential Concerns when Considering an Adjustable Keyboard?

The most significant concern when considering an Adjustable Keyboard is whether the current workstation can accommodate the keyboard when adjusted into the desired position.  Often Keyboard Trays are too shallow to accommodate an Adjustable Keyboard once it is splayed.  Sometimes Keyboard Trays will have a Wrist Rest which will need to be removed to provide sufficient adjustment space.  Finally, some non-height adjustable Articulating Arms may not lower sufficiently to accommodate the vertical tent of an Adjustable Keyboard. 

Another consideration is the risk of Wrist Extension that is caused by tenting the keyboard and failing to provide a Palm Support to prevent the wrists from 'dropping' off the now more significant vertical profile.

Some ergonomic devices are not compatible with Adjustable Keyboards.  For example, many Central Pointing Devices will not function well in conjunction with an Adjustable Keyboard.  Certain types of Writing Surfaces may also be incompatible in certain circumstances with Adjustable Keyboards (due to either their splay or their height).

Adjustable Keyboards help to reduce awkward postures at the wrist.  However, depending upon the personal Anthropometrics of an individual, when one resolves issues at the wrist, it may create new problems at the elbow or shoulder.  In these cases, a Separated Keyboard may provide the answer.

For What Types of Tasks / Users are Adjustable Keyboards Suitable? 

While individuals of all levels of keyboarding skill are suitable potential users of Adjustable Keyboards, the split inherent in this type of keyboard will force users to become better typists as they will find it almost impossible to type letters on the left half of the keyboard with their right hand, and vice versa.  In this sense, Adjustable Keyboards may assist hunt-and-peck typists along the road to becoming touch typists.

What Physical Injuries or Conditions Typically Benefit from Adjustable Keyboards?

Adjustable Keyboards can be of benefit to a wide variety of users including individuals with wrist conditions such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Guyon's Canal Syndrome.  Due to their tenting capabilities, they also typically benefit individuals with Lateral Epicondylitis and Medial Epicondylitis.  As they also reduce the amount of movement to use the mouse, they are of potential benefit to individuals with Rotator Cuff, Bursitis and Cubital Tunnel Syndrome.



Last edited February 4th, 2014

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