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Changing from Qwerty to Dvorak Keyboard typing: 

Our Personal Experiences:  What it was like for us

I do not have a ‘changing’ story because I learned to type on the Dvorak keyboard in the first place.  I saw a description of Dvorak in a 1974 Whole Earth Catalog, and vowed then that if I ever learned to type, I would use the Dvorak keyboard.  Later, I did.  I see others type on Qwerty, using much more finger motion and all, and I can’t imagine.  Only rarely do I hunt and peck on another’s keyboard.

It would be good to train new typists on Dvorak.  New keyboards could be labeled in both Dvorak and Qwerty, and since typing is now taught mostly by computer, teachers could train people in Dvorak without knowing it themselves.  Those not wanting to change could keep Qwerty, and new people would not have to be burdened with an injurious and inefficient keyboard.

The benefits are so great, and enough people have asked about my different way of typing, as most have never heard of Dvorak.   So this site is my answer.  However, most of you will be changing from Qwerty, so here are a few experiences of some who have.

"Hold your hands on the Dvorak diagram and pretend to type something. See for yourself"

Sharyl "I was typing at a job for 12 years. My hands would hurt after a day’s work, and there came a point when they didn’t stop hurting overnight. I was going to have to quit my job, when a friend told me about Dvorak. I went home one weekend, and practiced for maybe 3 or 4 hours over the course of the weekend.

I went back on Monday, and typed Dvorak. I have now been using it for 4 years now, my speed is about the same as it was, as I don’t need it that much. But now my hands do not hurt at the end of the day. This saved my job". -

Laron, age 20, states "I learned to type Qwerty in high school. I was typing at 32 WPM. After graduation I learned about Dvorak. I switched, it took me about a week, there is definitely less jumping over the keys. I now type at 60 or so WPM. We are in the modern day, so why type like they did 120 years ago?"

Jeff Bigler states – "The greatest benefit I’ve found is that, in addition to feeling more comfortable, the typing related discomfort I was beginning to experience in my wrists and forearms diminished, even though the amount of typing I was doing remained constant. I believe that Dvorak’s claims that his layout requires less ‘hurdling’ over keys and less total finger travel are true, and that this is more or less directly responsible for the reduction in RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) symptoms that I have experienced."

"Was making the switch worth it? Yes, because of the ergonomic benefits. Would I recommend it to other people? Yes, particularly if you have RSI problems from typing. When you first make the switch, the unfamiliar layout will slow you down, helping your injured arms and wrists heal. Once your Dvorak speed catches up with your qwerty speed (which it will) you will likely find typing more comfortable, and it may be less likely that your RSI will recur."

Randy Cassingham switched to Dvorak, his speed went from 50 to over 100 WPM.

Then there is Barbara Blackburn.  Listed as the world’s fastest typist, she can type 212 WPM on a Dvorak keyboard. She can also type 150 WPM, and maintain that speed for 50 minutes without stopping! (37,500 key strokes)

Bob Ranger, on his website, says— ‘Reasons for learning Dvorak’, (used with permission).

"My own favorite, and the one I was most surprised by, is that you become a lot less fatigued than with the old keyboard. You don’t get that drawn out feeling when an assignment comes your way late in the day."

"Nothing scientific, you understand, but it may relieve carpal tunnel strain. Carpal tunnel hasn’t been a problem for me, but I can remember that the third finger on either hand would often bind and get stiff at times, as if they were saying – don’t do this to me! This has not happened since I switched keyboards. "

"Accuracy. When the State of Oregon tried to implement the new keyboard, managers saw an increase in productivity even before the typists were up to speed. Their accuracy was so much better that it made up for lack of speed, even at that early stage."

(The test was terminated early, as this was done using special equipment, in the typewriter era, before the time of easily available computers, and the people involved feared a lack of portability, a problem that no longer exists. People feared the ‘More work by fewer people’, and the ‘Can I ever get a job anywhere else with this’ syndromes) Since computers are a common fixture in nearly all offices now, Dvorak is available everywhere, on demand.

"The main reason most people switch, speed. Speed is something much of which I don’t have a lot of in the first place. My dreams of joining the ranks of high speed typists are yet to come, but I’m faster than I was on the old keyboard. People who are blessed with great speed should be able to pass the threshold of credulity using the Dvorak layout."

"Much of the communicating done on computers and the Internet nowadays will be easier with the new keyboard. The faster your mind-to-eye-to-hand coordination, the more meaningfully your ideas will emerge."

Who should learn the Dvorak keyboard?

"Writers. The more your writing speed approaches your thinking speed, the better your material will be – look at the way jazz musicians compose on the spot. Write as fast as you think. It’s a sad day when one’s writing conforms to how much they like or dislike the typing function. How many great ideas have been deep sixed because the writer did not feel like typing?"

"Transcribers—legal stenographers. Someone who has natural speed could probably approach that of a legal stenographer – a skill always in high demand."

"Anyone who spends an hour or so a day or more at the keyboard should seriously consider the Dvorak keyboard. Why not minimize the drudgery – the time you save could be spent in riotous living."

"Those with a true desire to join the 21st Century should learn the Dvorak keyboard."

© 2002 Malcolm Greenway 

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