Handizap: The quad’s answer to touchscreens?

By |2017-01-13T20:41:33+00:00February 12th, 2016|
Contact The Editor

HandizapTouch screens are the future and they’re everywhere, and if you’re a quad with limited or no hand function they can be a conundrum. If you’re like me, you’ve probably figured out a knuckle, or a place on your hand that you can use to tap, click, drag and stay productive. But if you’re like me, you probably wish you had a better solution. Enter the Handizap.

Back in May we highlighted a Kickstarter campaign for the Sixth Digit, a slick little stylus quads could slip onto their pinky to make using touch screens easier. The product and campaign were the brainchild of Virginia quad Josh Smith.

On the strength of Smith’s great idea, the campaign raised over $2,000 and late last year backers received the promised Sixth Digits. Smith has since rebranded his product as Handizap, and now sells it through his website. For $30 you get two Handizaps, two replacement tips and a carry bag. Just this week Smith was recognized by Governor Terry McAuliffe with Virginia’s 2016 STEM Catalyst Award for his invention.

I was one of the many backers of Smith’s campaign and was thrilled when I finally received my Sixth Digit/Handizap in the mail. As a C5 quad with limp fingers, the prospect of an easier way to manipulate my phone, tablet and computer screen was exciting. I chose the silver matte finish and was very satisfied with the final product. It’s light, the clasps you wraparound your finger are easy to manipulate and it feels well crafted.

I popped my Handizap on instantly and got to testing. In the instructional video, Smith makes it clear you need to get device set right and keep it at the right angle to whatever device you are touching or it will slide off to the side. I immediately encountered this problem when trying to type. In addition to my wrist and other parts of my hand occasionally touching unwanted keys, the Handizap kept sliding diagonally on the keys when I tried to exert pressure.

I had a friend tighten the clasps beyond what I had been able to and that made a big difference. The Handizap was great for my iPad and cell phone. Using apps, playing games and simply navigating were all much easier. Still, I never really got comfortable typing with the Handizap. Between the Handizap slipping and me not always pressing hard enough for it to register, I made too many mistakes to keep using it over my trusty typing aids.

All was good in the land of aids – I used the Handizap for tablets and phones and my old typing sticks with my computer. But everything changed when I got a new computer with a capacitive touch screen. I needed my typing sticks to be efficient typing, but they don’t work on the touch screen because they don’t carry the electrical charge from your finger or body. I wanted the Handizap for the touch screen, but it just didn’t give me the control I needed for the heavy typing I do every day.

What will I do? How will I solve the touch/type enigma?? Check back next week to see my solution and whether it might work for you.