Left-Handers Club Newsletter - January 2006


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In this issue...

1. Backwards watch at half price
2. Is the LHC 'Ridiculous' ?
3. Form for your responses
4. Yoropen at £1.49 (normally £3.00)

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We have started building an archive of previous newsletters and you can see them all in our
Newsletter archive index

Welcome to the January 2006 issue of your Left-Handers Newsletter and a very happy New Year to all Club Members.

We have taken up most of this newsletter with a disturbing email we received recently and our response to it. We think it raises some very important issues and would be very interested to receive your views on it (use the form at the bottom of this page)

Backwards watch offer at half price

Backwards watch at 50% discount

We have a special offer on our most popular "backwards" watch. Left-handers find it easy to tell the time on these watches but they easily confuse right-handers!

The manufacturer has advised us that to keep making this watch for us we will have to buy in much larger quantities. To make it a little easier for us, they have offered us 50 watches at half price as part of the larger batch.

We thought we would pass this benefit on to Club members, so we have 50 of these watches in stock now to sell at only GBP 9.49 instead of the normal price of GBP 18.95

The watch face is 32mm in diameter and it has an adjustable matt leather strap. It is suitable for everyone - men, ladies, boys and girls and would make a great present or a treat for yourself.

The watch has a polished stainless steel surround to the face - the black colour in our image is only a reflection.
Click here to place an order for your watch

Is the Left-Handers Club 'ridiculous' ?

Last month we received an email attacking the work we have done over the last 15 years with the Left-Handers Club, and the Anything Left-Handed website as "ridiculous" and accusing us of trying to promote left-handedness as a disability so that we could "cash in" on people's misfortune. It is probably a mark of how strongly we are supported that we have never in our 20+ years experience in this field received such cruel and unjust criticism before. However, we still felt duty-bound to respond and felt that you, our Club Members, would be interested to see how the correspondence developed. We have reproduced the original email and our response below.

As always, we welcome your opinions on this topic and would be interested to know how you would have responded. We have not given the name or contact details of the writer, but we will be happy to publish and pass on your views.

Email received from Victoria T (this is real and has been copied exactly as it arrived!)

Dear Keith,

I am left handed and I am really appalled to see your website is ‘campaigning to promote awareness, acceptance and empathy for left-handers’. This is ridiculous. Firstly myself, my brother and my mother are all left handed, we have had no problems throughout our lives with writing, using utensils, using anything right handers use.

It is a terrible thing to make this characteristic into a disability. ‘Promoting acceptance’, never in my life have I not accepted for being left handed. I feel your company is cashing in and making being left handed sound like a disability. Your company is allowing young children to have a self fulfilling prophesy, you are allowing them to feel they are different, you are playing on this fact and adding to the emphasis of their differences. As for ‘smudging work’ this has never happened to me ever, ‘Bad posture’ and ‘low self-esteem’ these are all ridiculous claims. Myself, my brother and my mother all have University degrees, we all have high paid jobs and left handedness has never been an issue. As a child I was in fact commended by my teacher for my neat handwriting.

Possibly in the Victorian times, yes left handers were described as the ‘devil hand’ but this discrimination has not occurred for years. You have suggested that teachers need to be trained in dealing with left-handed children this is ridiculous, my mother who is a teacher with 15 years experience in junior, senior and disabilities has never come across any difficulties with any left handed children she has taught.

I have a psychology degree and have a huge amount of experience working with children and adults with a variety of disabilities and disorders, I therefore know first hand that being left handed is not a disability and your company is making it out to be one. I wonder where you get your statistics from and why you think it is necessary to make left handers feel like they have some sort of disease or disability?  

I look forward to your reply.

Best Regards,

Victoria T

When we recovered from our shock, we thought that we really could not just let this pass so we spent some time composing a response. This is what Lauren wrote back to her...

Dear Victoria,

I was extremely disturbed to receive your harsh criticism of our work, but very pleased that you have contacted us about your perceptions and given me the opportunity to increase your understanding of what we actually do.

As well as responding in detail to your email, may I also urge you to take a more detailed look at our website, and especially our answers to Frequently Asked Questions, in particular :

Will being left-handed cause my child any problems at school?
http://www.anythingleft-handed.co.uk/faq.html#cause_problems

Will the school know exactly how to help their left-handed pupils?
http://www.anythingleft-handed.co.uk/faq.html#school_help

We take every opportunity to reinforce the positive aspects of left-handedness. Indeed, in the many discussions and interviews I have been involved in over the years, one of the first points I insist on making is that “left-handedness is NOT a disability.” In fact, it is a huge advantage, as being left-handed in a right-handed world means we become extremely adaptable, out of necessity. I can only assume that you based your diatribe on a very brief viewing of our site.

Your main criticism seems to be directed at the resources we provide for children, and the campaigns we have run for the last 15 years for increased awareness and consideration of left-handers’ needs. The work which we and others have done in education is based entirely on research and feedback we have undertaken with left-handers worldwide, including the experiences of parents, teachers themselves, and independent research into the needs of left-handed students in the classroom.

Our Left-Handers Club was founded as a direct result of a questionnaire sent to Anything Left-Handed customers in 1989 asking if there were any facilities we did not cater for. The response to the survey was an overwhelming frustration at lack of consideration by public bodies, schools, designers and major manufacturers. It was obvious that what our customers wanted was a forum to voice their frustrations, and a pressure group to get improvements made. We felt duty bound to provide these services, and so started the Left-Handers Club in 1990. Further surveys highlighted particular areas of concern such as :

  • Certain power tools and machinery with safety features that were not effective when operated by a left-hander.
  • RSI due to in inappropriate working layouts/equipment in commercial premises.
  • Cheque book stubs which were awkward to write in.
  • Bank/post office layouts without provision for left-hand writing.

The overwhelming concern that members had, however, was with difficulties left-handed children were encountering when learning to write, and also the lack of specific guidance their children were receiving with handwriting from their teachers. Upon further investigations, it became clear that there was no formal training of teachers in how to guide left-handed children to develop a comfortable, neat and efficient handwriting style when using the pen in the left hand.

Though many teachers, through experience, did know the correct techniques for left-handers, this knowledge was not passed down in any formal way. Thus, in most cases the whole class would receive the same information on writing, and left-handers generally developed their own ways of overcoming the challenges of writing left-handed, sometimes developing the correct style, but often resulting in the “hooked” writing style and hunched position that is so characteristic of left-handed writers. Our Left-Handers Club therefore produced a FREE Handwriting Factsheet showing the simple but effective steps that should be followed when teaching left-handed children to write, and which help to ensure a comfortable and efficient style. This factsheet is still available FREE OF CHARGE on request, and is downloadable from our website.

From the thousands of accounts I have heard from our customers over the years, I know that many left-handers, of all ages and generations, have experienced, and continue to experience, real and valid difficulties in trying to adapt to right-handed techniques and equipment – often exacerbated by the lack of patience and understanding from those in charge. Many of these experiences have led to real unhappiness and poor self-esteem in later life, made all the more sad since, with the correct guidance, they would have so easily been avoided. I have never dismissed, nor would I wish to, these people’s experiences as irrelevant or untruthful simply because I myself did not echo their experiences. Rather, I and my colleagues work to increase awareness among teachers of the difficulties that may impede a left-handed child, so they can be alerted to them and, if they arise, deal with them quickly and sympathetically so that all children, like yourself, never consider handedness to be an issue.

Making people aware of a problem does not increase it. It simply encourages people to be aware of it and gives them means to deal with it, should that be necessary. Your assumption that all left-handed children will now be considered disabled is absurd. Quite simply, we strongly believe that left-handers have a right to equally relevant guidance and equally comfortable/efficient equipment as their right-handed peers, particularly with regard to handwriting. Being left-handed is not a special needs issue, but it IS an equal opportunities issue.

In addition to the above points, your email seems to infer that we are out to make a fast buck from a gullible audience, which again could not be further from the truth.

Anything Left-Handed was formed over 35 years ago, as a direct response to difficulties a number of left-handers had in using certain tools efficiently e.g. scissors, fountain pens, tin openers etc. In the vast majority of cases, our customers have never been unable to use right-handed version, since, as I have said, left-handers become extremely adaptable through necessity!

Most of our customers simply realise that certain implements are not particularly comfortable or practical for them and choose to purchase an item that is better and more comfortable for the task. Nowhere is there ever any suggestion that purchasing a well-designed tool or implement makes one appear disabled or incapable of performing basic actions! Your own comment that your family have had had “no problems throughout our lives with writing, using utensils, using anything right handers use” would be a view echoed by many of our satisfied regular customers. Fortunately, most of our visitors realise that, as in all other areas of life, good, practical ergonomic design means a more comfortable, efficient implement and having tried a left-handed version find they much prefer it. If not, our full no-question money-back guarantee, including all postage charges is in place specifically to allow returns which are totally free of charge.

We take our relationship with our customers very seriously, and would never include a product in our range that we had not tested ourselves, and that did not have an obvious benefit for a left-handed user. The majority of our products are actually sourced and manufactured as a direct result of customer questionnaires and feedback. If a particular item is requested that we do not stock, we will try and find it somewhere, or (if there is enough demand) consider producing it ourselves.

Our range has been built over many years of researching, sourcing and testing to ensure we provided products that are of real benefit to our customers, which is why our company has survived for 35 years, and continues to receive wonderful testimonials from satisfied customers on a daily basis. Below are a few examples of the feedback we get from our customers, which I think you will agree, shows that many people would refute your view that there are “no problems” using right-handed equipment.

  • Buying left handed scissors from you was one of the best things for my son I have ever done."
    Carrie H., Pendleton, IN, USA
  • "I recently bought a multi-purpose knife which I now can't live without! It is wonderful to find out after all these years that I am not inept, but merely using the wrong tools! Thanks,"
    Stephanie M. USA
  • "...I have only just found out about anything left-handed today, and it has already changed the way I write in a brilliant way.  I am 11 years old and write scruffily and smudge, but I bought a pen and a pencil grip today, and get on with them really well.  Thanks for caring and thinking about the difficulties left-handers have."
    Tina – UK
  • "...the company Anything Left- Handed has helped one group of users - left-handed people - to put pressure on organisations to make their products safer and more comfortable to use..."
    Innovation UK, The British Council
  • "Just to say how pleased I am with my new bread knife... my son and I can both cut lovely slices now. It is 1st time I've used Internet shopping which was very good. The parcel arrived very quickly"
    Melanie – UK

You can view more testimonials on our website at :
http://www.anythingleft-handed.co.uk/comments.html

I hope that you will appreciate how seriously we have taken your comments, and how committed we are to our work, our customers and our business.

I will share your email and my response with the 48,000 members of our Left-Handers Club via our monthly newsletter, as I am sure you would find their responses and views very enlightening. I also think it will be valuable to post it on our website, along with any responses, in case other visitors have the same misconceptions as yourself. I will forward the responses and comments we receive to you for your information.

Yours sincerely

Lauren Milsom
Director, Anything Left-Handed

We got a response from Victoria and do not seem to have entirely convinced her!

Dear Lauren,

Many thanks for your response however I have read every page on your website and feel no amount of testimonies from Janet or Bob in US is going to change my opinion about your website. I appreciate that you feel your business is necessary and if you have managed to earn an income out of it then well done to yourself and my opinions have stayed the same. My personal experience, my family’s experience, my experience in my psychology degree, my previous work with children with disabilities and my mother’s experience as a teacher for 15 years has led me to believe that making a big deal of small differences in children leads to self fulfilling prophecies. Therefore we have to agree to disagree.

Victoria T

What do you think?
Has she got a point?
How would you have responded?

Response Form for comments on the Victoria emails

Please complete the form below and we will analyse your responses, pass them on to Victoria and include them in next month's newsletter

First name
Surname
Email
Do you agree with Victoria's views?
Your general comments
What would you have said to Victoria?

Thank you for taking the time to contribute.

You will be returned to this page after submitting and receive a confirmation email to say your comments were received OK.

Yoropen biro for only £1.49

Yoropen - great for left-handers

In case you have not seen it yet, we are currently running a promotion on the web site offering a Yoropen biro for only £1.49 instead of the normal £3.00 each.

These are great for left-handers as you can position the triangular rubber grip exactly where you want it to get the best writing position and the offset writing tip means you can see what you have just written and do not smudge it.

The onsite offer comes up in a random popup window that not everyone will see, so this link will take you direct to the offer page:
Yoropen offer page link for Left-Handers Club members

More information on Yoropens and why they are great for left-handers

 

Best wishes to you all and we will be in touch again soon with more news and views

Keith and Lauren Milsom
and all at the Left-Handers Club

We enjoy receiving your emails but due to the number received we cannot answer them all personally. We do read every one and consider them for inclusion in future newsletters or the web site.

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