Life as a Left-Handed Person is Just Not Right

17/02/2015 12:48 GMT | Updated 17/04/2015 10:59 BST

Bringing with it an increased risk of dyslexia, psychosis, hyperactivity and depression, life as a left-handed person is not quite right. Not only are lefties more susceptible to various mental illnesses, but a recent Harvard study of 47,000 people in the UK and USA has also shown that their annual salary is on average 10-12 per cent lower than those of right-handed people.

Bearing these facts in mind, it is clear that more needs to be done improve the lot of those long-suffering lefties - a misunderstood tribe which makes up 12 per cent of the UK's population.

For starters, more left-handed products should be readily accessible without costing an arm and a leg. While it is possible to buy bespoke left-handed products, including saucepans, golf clubs and guitars, these items are only available in a few niche stores and are far more expensive than their right-handed counterparts.

Unjustly, not all items are available in a left-handed version; a current petition created by US citizen Sylvia Cacciatore is calling on Canon Inc. to design a left-handed camera, with a shutter button on the opposite side - a product that currently does not exist and one which many lefties would surely give their right arm for.

Additionally, many items of furniture, such as doors and handrails, both of which are ergonomically shaped exclusively for righties, need some serious ambidextrous reanalysis. Ever thought a left-handed friend of yours was clumsy? Well, according to academics Diane Halpern and Stanley Coren, who wrote a controversial research paper entitled 'Left-handedness: a marker for decreased survival fitness', the elevated "accident susceptibility" of lefties is partially due to their constantly having to navigate right-handed furniture.

Institutionalised discrimination in the form of the right-handed desk, the kind found in many a university lecture hall and classroom, should be banned. These "right-biased" writing tools can, according to the Handedness Research Institute, not only lead to chronic back, shoulder and neck pain, but can also place lefties at a serious disadvantage when it comes to timed examinations and lead to their being unfairly accused of cheating on account of their having to acrobatically contort their bodies in order to write.

Even if institutions do ensure that 12 per cent of desks are designed with lefties in mind, M.K. Holder, executive director of the Handedness Research Institute, does not believe this will solve the problem. "Bulk purchasing percentages match poorly with [the] statistical [probability] of students finding desks in classrooms that match their handedness", he writes. "One class may contain no left-handers, the next class may contain over 30%." Therefore, the most sensible solution would be to ban right-handed desks altogether and replace them with those of an un-biased variety.

But why are there so few left-handed products and left-handed-friendly items of furniture? Well, according to Keith Milson, founder of the unambiguously-named website, Anything Left Handed, it's not unusual for large manufacturing companies to shy away from producing left-handed products. "The answer is always that the small percentage of lefthanders [sic] does not justify the cost of development and production of different model[s]", he wrote, in a blog post on the site.

But when all major supermarkets stock Quorn and other veggie supplements, even though, according to a Department of Health and Food Standards Agency survey, vegetarians only constitute 2 per cent of the UK's population, this feels like an inadequate response.

It seems that society's lack of accommodation for lefties is based on the assumption that their kind should just improvise and deal with the practical difficulties that arise as a result of their awkward-handedness. However, with the release of such worrying statistics about lefties' susceptibility to mental illness and the probability of their earning significantly less than their right-handed counterparts, more needs to be done to improve the left-handed layman's quality of life.

Gone are the days when 'sinister' children were caned for using their natural writing hand in class, yet societal pressure to be right on still leaves many feeling left out.