The Best Advice My Mother Ever Gave Me: Learn to Type

March 17, 2016 | Leave a Comment

by Kathy Austin, CVA

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Hands on a computer keyboard

When I was growing up, my mother always told me that I should learn how to type. I can still hear her saying, “You can always be a secretary and have something to fall back on if you need it.” My mom passed away 24 years ago and this was one piece of advice that she was so right about.

I did want to be a secretary just like her when I grew up. I like the organization and efficiency of it all.  It was the only job I really ever thought about doing. So when I went to high school, I enrolled in typing class freshman year. While most students took maybe a semester or two of typing, I took typing all four years. I can’t really say why I liked the class so much because I was only a B student, but I did. I also took other business and secretarial classes like shorthand and business law.

Two weeks after I graduated from high school, I landed my first secretarial position at a Fortune 500 building materials manufacturer.  For 10 years, that was pretty much my career until my vision started to deteriorate. I quit my job when I could no longer function well and began the next chapter in my life — staying home and raising my children. I don’t think I touched a typewriter or keyboard in those years of raising my family.

The second thing my mom told me about typing was that it was like riding a bike – once you learn, you never forget. This advice was also very important for me because after 10 years of staying home it was time for a change. I enrolled in my local community college and began my journey of earning a bachelor’s degree. Of course, things had really changed since I left the work world – now there were computers that I had to use to do course work. This is when the typing came in really, really handy. Typing was one hurdle I didn’t have to deal with – the vision issues were enough!

So why am I telling you all of this now? Some may think that with voice recognition you don’t need to type.  But let’s think about all the things that are easier if you do know how to type:

  • If you were a hunt and peck typist before you lost vision, your hunting ability is severely impacted when you can no longer see the letters on the keyboard.
  • Knowing where the keys on a keyboard are, makes it easier to put in passwords on your smart phone.
  • Voice recognition isn’t very private. If you want to send a text, typing with your earbuds gives you the privacy you may want or need.
  • Using voice recognition is not always accurate. An embarrassing text could be sent or, worse yet, a misunderstanding could arise if you don’t review your input.
  • Doing tasks that are more complex like typing a document or working in an Excel worksheet is much faster and more efficient if you know where the keys are.
  • You can reflect more on what you have written, edit easier and let your thoughts flow if you know how to type.

The best thing my typing teachers taught us was not to look at the keyboard – more good advice for someone who was going to lose their vision later in life!

Kathy is the Community Engagement Specialist and Volunteer Coordinator at Second Sense

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