An Irish keyboard standard?

There is no Irish national standard for computer keyboards.  Such a standard would be expected to cover keyboarding of text in both Irish Gaelic and in English, and its adoption would ensure that computer equipment supplied in Ireland would be properly set up for keyboarding both languages.

In the absence of a standard, users who wish to keyboard Irish Gaelic are placed at a disadvantage. They have to seek out the information for themselves, often with little expert guidance from computer vendors. What they find is that various schemes for keyboarding Irish Gaelic are in use, devised by corporations and by individuals. For details of some of these de-facto schemes, see here for MS-Windows, here for Macintosh.

I made a detailed proposal to NSAI as long ago as 1998 for an Irish keyboard standard, within the framework of the international keyboard standard, ISO/IEC 9995. The lack of interest from the relevant subcommittee may be due to unwillingness to face the fact that some of the current software for keyboarding Irish Gaelic employs practices — the use of the Windows AltGr key or the Macintosh Option key for acute accents — which cannot be reconciled with ISO/IEC 9995, and would necessarily be deprecated in any Irish keyboard standard.

My proposal assumes that the present physical keyboards will remain in use, without any change to the keytop engravings.   It covers the characters required in the Irish context, but is not exclusively linked to any particular character-set; the standard should not specify keying for any character which happens to be present in a relevant character-set, but is not itself relevant.  I post the proposal here, changed only to update my e-mail address.

The objectives in designing this proposal have been:

To understand the proposal, some acquaintance with ISO/IEC 9995 (see here, eight parts, search for "9995") and with the British standard BS 4822 (see here, search for "4822") may be useful.  Technical libraries may hold copies of these standards.


Ciarán Ó Duibhín
2006/09/24
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