Letter to the editor: The needs of the minority count too


    Dear Editor:

    I recently talked to a manager of the Computer Science computer labs about typing on their computers in Dvorak. I was denied, due to the difficulty it may pose for the majority who type using Qwerty.

    Dvorak is a keyboard layout that differs from the standard Qwerty in the position of the keys. Qwerty was designed to keep frequently used letter combinations apart and slow the typing speed, to keep the hammers on the manual typewriter from sticking together.

    The Dvorak layout was designed to keep the hands alternating from one to the other as much as possible, reducing hand movement and increasing typing speed.

    Because less movement is required for Dvorak, it can help reduce problems with carpal tunnel syndrome. My father was bedridden with ice packs on his wrists due to carpal tunnel syndrome. He has since switched to Dvorak, and has benefited greatly.

    When I switched to Dvorak I was soon typing more than 50 words per minute with greater accuracy than I had with Qwerty. Unfortunately, the ubiquitous nature of Qwerty necessitates my changing back and forth from one to the other when using a computer other than my own, which slows my typing speed.

    Windows NT and 98 both have available support for Dvorak, and there is a program available in Unix to type in Dvorak. I was not denied access to Dvorak in the computer lab due to lack of the computers’ ability, but because it might scare someone who tries to use a computer which was inadvertently left in Dvorak. On my computer at home, under Windows 98, it takes two keystrokes to change the layout back and forth.

    I know that I am a vast minority, but I beg the University, due to health concerns, to allow the use of the Dvorak keyboard layout.

    Bryant Smith

    San Jose, Calif.

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