April 10, 2006

Universal Design and Left Handed

A Reader wrote:

Hey everyone,

I've looked through pages on left handedness and failed to get the answers I'm looking for.

a) Why is left handedness not considered as a disability in design terms? No offence. But when I checked Universal Design 7 elements, it focuses on right handed, disabled, children and elderly. Therefore, when a product/item is considered ergonomics, it will not to left handed. This could lead to discomfort and long term injury.

b) What would be the criteria or requirements in order to make an item non biased towards right or left handers? So that lefties also could enjoy using a product.


  1. Spatulas: make it straight instead of slanted, that slant drives me crazy.
    Guns: I was looking to buy them for self defense, and the guy gave me an 'ambidextrous' gun. But the only thing that was interchangeable was the clip release. I had to go with a revolver because they are less complicated.

    Overall I would make things symmetrical so that people can use them either way. and if it is not perfectly symmetrical at least make sure it is comfortable to move it to the other hand.

  2. To answer your question a, I wouldn't want left-handedness to be called a disability. But I do agree with you that it is a pain that a majority of products made is geared for the righties.
    To answer your question b, Products should be made for both lefties and righties that have no bias. That's why I recently created a product that is made for both lefties and righties in order to prevent a bias product. You see, I'm a lefty and my young son is a lefty too! He started coming home from school with graphite smudges on the side of his left hand and I hated that! I had the same problem when I was in college with ink smudges. So I tried to find a product out there to solve this problem but none was available. So I decided to create my own product for my son. We call it "Smudge Guard" and will launch it within a few months. It has eliminated the smudging problem for us when we write and draw and we hope that all left-handers and artists find this new product helpful in the future too! Email me at aajjwoo@verizon.net if anyone is interested in getting a free sample when it becomes available.

  3. In a "right" designed world, left handedness is definitely a disability according to the common usage of impairment popular here in the USA. But of course it is unrecognized and unprotected. No mass protests on the Capitol steps to back us up. Because we are intrinsically adaptable. As we grow older, being able to think upside down and backward is a serious strength, but for children learning to cut paper in school, or pass a "cursive" exam, it is a serious handicap.


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