Published 9:19 am Wednesday, August 23, 2017
Many left-handed people observe International Lefthanders Day annually during the month of August. The focus helps raise awareness about the inconveniences and frustrations left-handed people face in a world built for right-handed people.
I am right-handed. Most people are — nearly 90 percent according to some studies.
As a right-handed person, I have never had to cope with scissors that failed to cut because of my grip. When I use a ruler to draw a straight a line, my hand does not obscure the numbers measuring its length. Every time I write in a spiral-bound notebook, use a hand-operated can opener or peel potatoes, I take advantage of the fact product designers work most frequently with people of my handedness in mind.
Historically left-handedness carried a stigma. Although this is no longer the case, at least in most of the United States and other places where Western cultural patterns prevail, the English language retains remnants of past prejudices. For example, the word “sinister” means evil, malicious, or devious. The word comes from the Latin sinister, meaning left or left-handed. On the other hand, literally, the Latin opposite, dexter, for right-handed, shows up in English words such as “dexterity” (skill, agility or nimbleness).
Although contemporary culture no longer views left-handedness as a disability, left-handed students often benefit from using appropriate tools in order to accomplish learning tasks efficiently. Sometimes, these accommodations involve simple items, such as left-handed scissors or notebooks, but accommodations can also extend to complex issues, such as desk design and the ergonomics of computer stations.
In a similar way, students experiencing other needs can benefit from various modifications in the learning environment. Some students struggle and require accommodations because of physical or learning disabilities. Others have chronic health concerns or other challenges.
Dr. Al Roberts is president of Southside Virginia Community College. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.