# Why would being (left/right)-handed be considered a disability in a world where most are ambidextrous?

I'm creating a world where most of the population (99% or so) is ambidextrous.

In the real world, most people are right-handed. A lot of everyday objects (e.g. scissors, mouse cursors) are built with this in mind. Because of this, left handed people are at a slight disadvantage when using these objects, but nowhere near what would be considered a disability.

In addition, being ambidextrous does not offer any significant advantages (see this Biology Stack Exchange post).

People that are handed are considered disabled. However, I presume that being left or right handed would be considered nothing more than a minor inconvenience unless either:

1. There is one common/important activity that is significantly more difficult or impossible with one hand
2. There is a large set of smaller activities that would be difficult with only one hand

(although I'm completely open to other types of answers)

The only idea I've come up with so far people in this world having fragile arms that they frequently broke. Then being ambidextrous would allow people to do more when they have a broken arm. I imagine that this scenario would have much more far-reaching consequences than the fact that most people are ambidextrous (i.e. people would worry about doing something about their fragile bones rather than worrying about using both hands) and hope to find a better answer.

Why would being left or right handed be considered a disability?

• Lefties are not considered disabled because by and large all people can learn to use either hand to do any task. It is more difficult for righties to learn to write with their left hand than with their right hand, but it is perfectly possible; it just takes practice. (And many tasks are done with different hands in different countries anyway; English people shift gears with their left hand, Americans hold the fork in their right hand etc.) – AlexP Jul 9 at 18:07

## 5 Answers

Generically speaking a disability of a person is the incapacity, for that person, to use all the functionalities normally available to an average individual.

Therefore in a world were an average individual can use both hands to, i.e., write, a person with this ability on one hand would perfectly fit the definition of disable.

• Unless schools actually teach writing with both hands. Right handed people can learn to write with their left hand, it is not a superhuman ability. I do remember that there was a a time when I couldn't write with any hand... Now I use both hands when typing. – AlexP Jul 9 at 18:11

A lot of tools in our world are build for right handed. In a world of ambidextrous, it wouldn't matter. So a right handed person might be screwed if an object is only available in the non dominant form of his preference.

That being said. Not to long ago in our (or at least my) society left handed people were highly suppressed in religious areas. This led to also them being seen as weird in other social circles if it wasn't beaten out of them. In addition, if something as simple as just a skin tone makes a difference for otherwise 2 identical people, it's not a stretch that not ambidextrous people are loathed by the average person. A little easier to hide, but as it can have real consequence (eg they have only right handed keyboards), there is a better "biological" reason for them to be shunned and even persecuted.

• Further supporting your second paragraph, it is worth noting that the word sinister -- which today means "evil" -- originally meant "left-handed". – DrSheldon Jul 10 at 11:22
• Didn't know that. You learn something every day. – Trioxidane Jul 10 at 11:35
• @DrSheldon: Sinister never ever meant left-handed. It means just "left", as opposed to "right"; e.g., cornu sinistrum, left horn. A left-handed person is scaeva. (Remember the legend of C. Mucius Scaevola, "The Lefty".) – AlexP Jul 10 at 22:59

I grew up in Texas in the 70's. I am probably left-handed. I was taught to write with my right hand. Only children who were simply unable to use their right hands, at all, were allowed to use the special lefty chairs. The teachers made it clear that they felt that the lefties were being pretty rude to put them to the extra trouble.

Your question is "why"? To deviate from the norm in any way is offensive to some people, if not most.

These people developed a system of writing which requires active use of both hands. Writing with just one hand is slow and awkward for them. Later, with the development of computer interfaces, most touchscreen operations also require the use of both hands. This puts unidextrous people at a significant disadvantage.

P.S. This is assuming that disabled people are truly unidextrous. In real life, left-handed children can usually be taught to use right hand well enough, if society pushes for it.

• I really like the idea of writing with both hands at once because it seems like that would be much more difficult for people to learn than just learning to use their non-dominant hand. However, I'm having trouble picturing how a writing system would require writing this way. – Avery Green Jul 12 at 14:49

One area where being ambidextrous would be a huge advantage is dual-wielding weapons. Normally it's a gimmicky strategy that is usually worse than sword-and-board or using a weapon two-handed in most situations. But in a society of ambidextrous people with medieval-level weaponry, dual-wielding would be considerably more effective than it was in real life. And if you have a society that places a great deal of significance on your skill with a form of culturally significant combat with dual-wielding, someone with a single dominant hand would run into a lot of problems whenever they're expected to do hand-to-hand combat.