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Have you ever heard of Dvorak keyboard being accepted by a testing department due to health reasons (carpal tunnel)?

I type on Dvorak keyboard and have realized that computer based admission tests for Masters programs may pose an issue.

Dvorak is the closest thing we have to an alternative standard to Qwerty which is preinstalled on all modern operating systems.

  • What do you mean by masters admissions programs? Are you wondering about admissions tests (e.g. GRE, which only allow Qwerty by the way) or tests in courses once you've been admitted? – Anyon Oct 24 '18 at 18:26
  • @Anyon GRE is a good example yes. – William Oct 24 '18 at 18:27
  • Ask the relevant testing department - they may, or may not, take into account other circumstances... – Solar Mike Oct 24 '18 at 18:51
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    Just to be sure: you are fine with touch-typing Dvorak — you don't need a physical Dvorak keyboard? – gerrit Oct 25 '18 at 9:17
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    @gerrit of course I have never actually owned a Dvorak keyboard. – William Oct 25 '18 at 13:22
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When it comes to the big standardized admission tests for (mostly) US graduate programs, such as the GRE and TOEFL tests, typically only Qwerty is allowed. See below for their policies. That said, they do make some accommodations for disabilities. Being a Dvorak typist does not count by itself, but if you have carpal tunnel it can't hurt to ask for special accommodations ahead of time. By the way, that link leads to a Dvorak community on Reddit. You might get better answers there.

For admissions and placement tests administered by individual universities, you would have to ask them. No universal rules there. For computer based exams and similar once admitted to a program, I think your chances are quite good. Few people would care about what keyboard layout you use, and even if they would, student disability offices tend to be quite flexible.

GRE

The GRE General Test uses a standard English-language (QWERTY) computer keyboard. It takes its name from the first 6 letters in the third row of the keyboard. If you haven't used this kind of keyboard before, practice on one before test day to become familiar with it.

The GRE Bulletin Supplement for Test Takers with Disabilities or Health-related Needs does mention some keyboard-related accommodations (e.g. ergonomic keyboard), but I don't see anything about layout. Unfortunately, I don't know how likely they are to make other accommodations.

TOEFL

The TOEFL iBT test uses a standard English-language (QWERTY) computer keyboard. It takes its name from the first 6 letters in the third row of the keyboard. If you haven't used this kind of keyboard before, practice on one before test day to become familiar with it. In some countries, the common keyboard used is configured to QWERTY and a template is provided to each test taker to help with locating the few keys that are in a different location.

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    I would suspect the biggest hurdle is that the people administrating the test may not know how to change the layout or how to change it back. Also, OP should make sure to clarify he doesn't need a physical Dvorak layout, but can touch-type Dvorak on any physical layout (if not, OP should clarify that in the question, for that raises the bar of preparation considerably). – gerrit Oct 25 '18 at 9:18

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