For my final project, I created a suite of Windows, Mac, and Linux keyboard layouts for the Rohingya Hanifi script. I felt this project could be useful to the community because the Rohingya are currently a displaced refugee population with very low literacy rates. A keyboard layout could make literacy (and computer literacy) education easier, as well as lightening the load on Rohingya interpreters, who, according to Translators without Borders, are in high demand right now and often work in stressful and even traumatizing conditions.
Evaluating my project was not straightforward because I could not locate a standard set of criteria as to what constitutes a successful keyboard layout. Measuring the efficiency of a layout directly appears to be quite difficult, especially in the absence of a collaborator who can read and type the language and script for which the layout was designed. Instead, I decided to propose some criteria of my own and then consider how well my layout fulfills them. These are just preliminary guidelines, and I hope others will expand upon them in the future.
- Does the layout contain the necessary characters for writing in the language? Yes
- Is the layout sensibly organized (i.e., all numbers on the same row)? Yes
- Does the layout resemble layouts the population might already be familiar with? Judging from low literacy rates, most Rohingya are likely not familiar with any keyboard layouts
- Does the layout avoid sensitive political implications? At least moreso than basing it on Bangla or Burmese (implying that Rohingya is just a variety of Bangla would be bad because that's one of the arguments the Myanmar government and others have used to assert that the Rohingya are illegal interlopers from Bangladesh)
- Does the layout offer easy access to frequently-used characters? Yes, comma and period are accessible with one keystroke (that said, I don't have data about which Hanifi letters are most common in Rohingya texts)