Can Dvorak Cure Typing Pain?

At his Coder’s Eye blog, Bruce Kroeze writes about his use of a Dvorak keyboard layout (Dvorak as a cure for typing pain – a four year report). Four years ago, I decided to resolve a problem that had been troubling me for years, he writes. The situation was that my wrists and fingers hurt almost all the time, and it was clearly due to computer use.

Bruce decided to try the Dvorak Keyboard Layout, which rearranges the location of most of the keys on the keyboard, with the goal of making it simpler to type most common words. With the QWERTY keyboard layout, one can only type about 10% of the words in the English language without leaving the home row. With Dvorak, the number moves to something like 70-80%.

Dvorak Keyboard Layout

Bruce used the Dvorak layout for two and a half years, and was pain-free after six months, but I can’t honestly say how much the Dvorak layout played a part in this wonderful change, since I changed a few other aspects of my approach to computer interaction at the same time. I can say without reservation that it was worth it, however.

Ultimately, he changed back to using the QWERTY layout, primarily because he needed to use other people’s computer’s several times during the day, and switching back and forth between layouts that often proved too awkward. I love the Dvorak layout, I think it is easier and less painful. But, the hassle wasn’t worth it for me in the end, he says.

But his wrists don’t hurt any more, even after he switched back, which he attributes to better posture and simply playing closer attention to his keyboarding habits.

Randy Rasa

Randy is an engineer/programmer/web designer who has suffered from repetitive strain injury off and on for over a decade.

2 Comments:

  1. Charles Dieringer, Ed.D.

    My wife was a former ‘court reporter’ and refused to change to Dvorak. So we use Windows and a standard QWERTYUIOP Keyboard. In the operating System you can set the keyboard arrangement to be different for each user. Also, have an Icon on the screen that allows changing back and forth as some times it is difficult to remember a special character’s location.

    The Key Caps can also be changed on many keyboards, but it is a little difficult with some of the ‘sculptured’ keys.

    Have you ever talked to a typing teacher about Dvoark?

  2. I switched to Dvorak several years ago after I began to feel tingling numbness in my fingers. It took just 2 1/2 months at 1/2 hour a day to learn it. I’ve been typing at over 100 wpm ever since without any pain or tingly feelings. As for special characters, you can always go to Staples or Office Depot and get the stick-on character labels and put them just on those symbol keys that you don’t use often.

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