The Real Reason I Switched From QWERTY to Stenography

Since 2008, I’ve had intermittent pain in my wrists, elbows and upper body from occupational overuse. At various times, the pain significantly impacted my ability to work. It was frightening to think that my financial security was in jeopardy. What if I would be unable to work long term?

Along the way I tried a lot of different tools and treatments. In 2015, the CIO at the company I worked at heard about my concerns, and asked me if I’d heard about stenography…

The process of writing shorthand is called stenography. Using a stenotype machine or a fancy keyboard, you can write over 200 words per minute. Typically, steno is used for courtroom reporting, closed captioning and real-time translation. As a means of entering text, it’s also an excellent ergonomic alternative to typing with a QWERTY keyboard. Enter: the Open Steno Project.

The Open Steno Project has open sourced the teaching of stenography out of the hands of expensive and exclusive schools. The project also provides open-source hardware so you can 3D print your own stenoboard. It also includes open-source software called Plover to translate keystrokes into words on your computer. This incredible project drastically lowers the barriers to entry for new stenographers. This means people with speaking impairments can learn steno to write at the speed of speech, people with visual impairments can make a living writing what they hear, and typists can reduce the strain on their limbs.

I can’t say steno was responsible for improving my wrists.

What I can say is that when I write with my stenoboard, I feel like a wizard.

To practice stenography, I designed and built an app for steno typing drills. To learn more about steno, check out Typey Type for Stenographers.