Re: Learning Jaws and the Keyboard

Charles Krugman

Hi Richard,
This is a late response. I first started to learn to type on an old manual typewriter when I was about your daughter's age fifty years ago. At thattime my classroom had a Braille book with a prototype of a keyboard showing keys with Braille labels that was part of the Braille book. I memorized the keyboard and my average typing speed on a typewriter is about 60-70 WPM. If your daughter is going to be proficient she needs to learn proper fingering and memorization. This is the same method that professional sighted stenographers and typists have used for years. Of course, at that time while use of Braille was encouraged for totally blind children it was also expected that blind children learned how to adapt and used standard whenever possible. hope this helps.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Richard Holloway" <rholloway@...>
To: "The Jaws for Windows support list." <jfw@...>
Sent: Tuesday, March 06, 2012 11:02 AM
Subject: Learning Jaws and the Keyboard

I am a typically sighted parent of a blind child (age 9). I interact with many other parents of blind children and could use some advice for my child and to share with other parents.

My daughter was effectively born blind having lost all usable vision by a few months of age. She learned braille from the start and learned to type on a perkins brailler first, then started to learn qwerty. She much prefers to use a braille keyboard on her computer and notetaker (Apex) as well, keeping a qwerety keyboard plugged in on her computer for occasional use for certain keys and functions.

My question is this: What is the best way for a blind typist to learn to use a qwerty keyboard; to do this most efficiently? Is it using JAWS feedback with the repeating of characters verbally as typed? What about the braille key caps, or at least braille stickers for keys? (I have never yet found a USB braille key capped keyboard, only an old PS-2 style unit) I get that touch typing and just pressing down on braille key caps would be of little use braille-wise, but is is like for sighted typists, in that it helps get reoriented when your fingers move or you get distracted, etc., and just to learn qwerty in the beginning? It would be easy enough to remove the braille and go with a standard keyboard later on-- conventional keyboards are cheap.

What we end up with as parents is an argument between (mostly typically-sighted) parents that braille caps are a great idea vs. how bad of an idea they are to use. I'm not trying to sit in either camp-- I'm wondering which seems to help (and curious about any suggestions of the best ways to learn qwerty typing without vision).

I don't want to clog up the list too much with this, though it is JAWS-related, obviously. Please do feel free to reply directly if you prefer. Your response may be valuable to quite a few parents of younger, keyboard-learning braille computer users, so thanks for any experience you may be able to share.

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