Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Keyboards for Senior Citizens

Courtesy of matulio on Flickr.com

Avid typists have special keyboards designed for them as do children but what about senior citizens?  Just because they are older individuals does not mean that they want to be out of the loop and without one of the best pieces of technology that we all use today to stay in touch with one another and keep up with all of the latest happenings.

While there are some senior citizen keyboards, a lot more thought could have been put into these designs.  In fact, the designs aren’t much different except in the fact that they have larger keys as well as larger font.

Why is it that when designers make special keyboards that they don’t fully think out the design first?  Sure, seniors could use children keyboards but that might cause them to feel a little funny about the entire situation.  By making a keyboard for senior citizens – and only senior citizens – it will help them feel like they matter in the world of computers.

While the large font and large keys are fantastic, many keyboards don’t take into consideration ergonomics.  If seniors are going to be using computers and keyboards like the rest of us, these keyboards should be built ergonomically correct although more than likely most seniors only type with a couple fingers.  However, isn’t that how we all started out?

Another thing that many manufacturers didn’t think of when they were making senior citizen special keyboards was the fact that many seniors wouldn’t need all the buttons or as many hot keys.  Only place a hot key for e-mail and internet, as these are the two things that a senior citizen is likely going to use the most when on the computer.  They probably won’t want to access YouTube, Windows Media Player, etc.

Finally, the layout of the keys.  When you first started typing, would it have been easier to learn how if all of the keys had of been in ABC order instead of the QWERTY order they are in?  Probably so.  Of course, learning to type at a young age, it’s inevitable that you’d have to switch back to the QWERTY design but for senior citizens this isn’t the case.  So, why not make things easier on the elderly and create a keyboard that is in alphabetical order?  This will help them in finding the keys and knowing where the keys are.

There are several different things that I think designers and manufacturers should have taken into consideration before making senior citizen keyboards.  My personal opinion is someone needs to develop a new one with all of this in mind.  These may be out there already but they aren’t easy to find.  Senior citizens deserve to use the internet but they also deserve to enjoy it, which they can do if they have a comfortable and easy to use keyboard in front of them.

Michael Simms is a freelance writer for QwertyKeyboard.org, a website about all things related to qwerty keyboards such as the best wireless keyboards, the best ergonomic keyboards, etc.
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