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A Whole New Quertyuiop


I’ve been invited to deliver a guest lecture on disability and accessibility as part of a course on Human Factors in Interface Design for undergraduates in Computer Science and Engineering.  I’m considering starting with the Quertyuiop keyboard.  Due to the mechanical nature of early typewriters, the Qwerty keyboard was designed in the 1870s to spread the vowels and other high-use keys over a wider area.  This anti-ergonomic design slowed typists (particularly right-handers), meaning the mechanics of the typewriter jammed less frequently.  Now the mechanics have been replaced, but the Qwerty interface remains, frequently causing discomfort and repetative strain injury.  It’s a high-profile incidence of an interface actively disabling a user, particularly relevant to Computer Scientists – and I’m hoping will act as a springboard into discussing the relevance of the social model of disability. 

Whilst looking up archival footage of early typewriters I stumbled upon this. This 30 second film comes from a Bollywood film and shows people dancing across a giant typewriter keyboard to catchy music! Make of it what you will!

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