Typing, Keyboards, Paralysis, and Me

A couple days ago, I lamented on Facebook that I can’t type with two thumbs on my iPhone.

This, of course, is due to my cerebral palsy. I’m fortunate in that mine is at a much milder level relative to other people’s. Even so, the partial paralysis I endure as a result of my CP isn’t fun. It’s harder to do things two-handed – even things that are easier done with two hands. I have considerably less strength in the right side of my body, and sometimes my hands/legs/feet hurt from moving. It’s these symptoms that make typing a real bitch for me, whether it be on a physical keyboard or a soft one like on my iOS devices.

Because of the aforementioned partial paralysis, my right thumb is too weak to keep up with the left (the left side of my body being strongest). I end up having to use the hunt-and-peck method to type, whereby I hold the phone in my right hand and tap each letter/character individually. It’s extremely slow and tedious, and I hate it. But I can’t do anything about it because it’s too uncomfortable for me to try and use two thumbs. I have the same problem on physical keyboards too, like on the Apple wireless one I’m using right now to type this piece. I essentially type with my two pointer fingers, hunting and pecking. Touch typing is out of the question because, again, my right hand isn’t strong enough or has the dexterity to actively navigate its side of the keyboard. And, again, it’s a real bitch because of how slow and tedious this method is. (I also really hate accidentally tapping the dictation button when I really meant to hit the spacebar. So damn annoying.) But, as I said, this is all I have to work with. Suffice it to say, I’m insanely jealous of all my family and friends who are able to bang out a text message in 30 seconds.

On the bright side, though, I actually type fairly well on the landscape keyboard on my iPad. There are typos, sure, but somehow it feels faster and better (physically) to type on that thing. I know I’m not as good as I could be due to my CP, but all things considered, it’s not too bad. I’m looking forward to seeing the new iPhone’s keyboard because I think the bigger screen may help me type better, at least in portrait. (I never use the landscape keyboard on the iPhone.) Overall, I suppose I should be thankful for small favors, and the fact that my dexterity is actually pretty good. Put another way, my quibbles with typing aren’t so major that I feel compelled to seek out physical and/or occupational therapy services.1 I think I’ve shown in my almost 31 years on the planet hat I’m able to handle adversity, and make the best out of a relatively shitty set of circumstances. What hasn’t killed me has made me stronger, and not being able to touch type isn’t so terrible in the grand scheme of things.

And yet, I’ll still grumble to myself that I wish I could do that.


  1. Been there, done that.  ↩