Crafting a Solution to Help Quads Type and Use Touch Screens

By |2017-01-13T20:41:33+00:00February 19th, 2016|
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Using his modified stylus, Ian Ruder can interact with touch screens.

When we last checked in with our intrepid GearCrip (me), I was praising the new Handizap quad stylus, while lamenting my inability to use it for typing and manipulating my new capacitive computer touch screen. I was trying to figure out a way to efficiently do both.

The problems as I saw them were such:

  1. The Handizap worked great for the touch screen but I had two issues when trying to type with it. First, it had a tendency to slip off the keys if not angled correctly. Second, typing required exerting more pressure on the keyboard than using a touchscreen, and my keystrokes often didn’t register, as I struggled to put the right amount of pressure through my quad wrists.
  2. My generic typing aids provided all the stability and control for typing, but didn’t activate the touchscreen because their plastic doesn’t carry the charge from my hands and fingers that capacitive touch screens rely on.

It was obvious I needed something that combined the stability and ease of use of the aids with the touch capability of the Handizap. I started off simply trying to use a cheap, $5 stylus, gripping it as much as possible in my hand and then punching the keys and the screen with it. This worked okay for my iPad, but the amount of pressure required to depress the keys kept moving the stylus and made lengthy typing inefficient. It was also tricky to reposition the stylus to touch the screen after typing. This could work if you have any grip or stronger wrists, but I don’t

My next idea was taping the stylus to one of my typing aids, removing the aid’s rubber tip and positioning the tip of the stylus where it used to be. I thought the plastic stem of the typing aid would provide the consistency I was looking for, and for the most part, it did. I was able to type almost as efficiently and could easily tap the screen with the control I’d been looking for. The only problem was the round, pen-like stylus didn’t provide much space for fingers to make the needed contact. My fingers kept slipping off the stylus and when they did I couldn’t use the touch screen.

A differently-shaped stylus seemed like an easy solution and I quickly found one browsing on Amazon. The model was probably intended as a fashion accessory for kids, but it offered a flat, wide touch surface and was only $7.99. I ordered five to experiment with in addition to some extra typing aids (You can make your own slip-on aid, buy them online or bug an OT for one) and started jerry-rigging new contraptions when they arrived two days later. I started by simply taping the stylus to the aid as I had with the round stylus. It worked great, but the extra length and weight on the stylus mad typing a little awkward and weighed down my weak wrists.

My solution was to hack off the top off the stylus using scissors and cut off the tip of the typing aid to make it slightly shorter. I then duct taped the shortened stylus to the aids and tried them out. The result was almost perfect. I was able to type with all the control and stability I needed, and when I went to touch the screen it registered my touch, and the point on the stylus gave me much more accuracy than I could achieve with my hands or knuckles.

I’ve been using my new creations for about a month and am thoroughly happy with them. For a lot of people the Handizap will be a perfect solution, and I highly endorse it, but if you’re like me and need something more, I’d encourage you to try my method. And if it doesn’t work, don’t give up! If necessity is the mother of invention, people with disabilities are likely the grandparents.