Left-handed persons are an unaccommodated minority - Roses And Thorns byAlejandro R. Roces

() - February 17, 2000 - 12:00am

Sometime ago, the nation commemorated The Year of the Disabled and great advances were made to alleviate the plight of disabled people. Since then, most sidewalks and buildings have slopes to accommodate persons in wheelchairs. What is sad is that the Light Railway Transit has absolutely no provisions for disabled passengers. People who can't walk without the help of canes can use a bus or jeepney, but not the LRT. Even elder people who are not disabled will have a difficult time coping with the stairs.

We wish that the government will also consider the plight of left-handed persons. It is safe to say that at least ten percent of our population are left-handed. But almost everything they use were designed for right-handed people. Scissors, can openers, wrist watches, Polaroid cameras, fountain pens, frying pans and vending machines -- all were designed for right-handed persons. even gum and candy wrappers. Left-handed musicians have to restring violins, guitars and banjos in order to play. There are no left-handed saxophonists.

In schools, left-handed students have to adjust to writing chairs that were designed strictly for right- handers. So they are forced to write with their left hands on the right side of their chairs. We hope that the Department of Education does something about this situation.

This lack of consideration for the special needs of left-handed persons has been with us for so long that it is even integrated in the English language. The word "dexter" means "on the right-hand side" and dexterity means "skill in using one's hands." For the left, the word used is "sinister" and it has an evil meaning.

We mention this because at present, we have a president who happens to be left-handed. By coincidence, so is US President Clinton, and so were Gerard Ford, Ronald Reagan and George Bush. Admittedly, in the United States, there are special stores that sell equipment specially designed for left-handed persons. But as a general rule, the "lefties" undergo the same frustrations that our left-handers suffer here and the world over for that matter.

We will be entering a new millennium. It will be good if we go into a program to consider the special needs of our left-handed people who constitutes ten percent of our population. It should begin with the needs of students. Fountain pens, for instance, are designed to be unscrewed from the right. It will not entail any expense if ten percent of such pens manufactured were designed to be unscrewed from the left. Banks, for instance, can set an example by printing left-handed checkbooks. Right now, the only machine that favors left-handed people is the typewriter. Most of the important keys are on the left. We believe that all things should be designed for the user. It makes no sense to force left-handed people to use anything that was designed for right-handed persons. Let us show concern for the needs of all minorities.

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