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Hawaiian keyboard extension for Chrome OS now available

It was developed by UH-Maui College assistant professor

KEOLA DONAGHY Developer of extension James Uyeda photo

The Maui News

A Hawaiian language keyboard extension — which allows for the typing of the kahako and ‘okina and was developed by a UH-Maui College assistant professor — has been released by Google for the Chrome operating system, the college announced Monday.

The keyboard developed by Keola Donaghy allows for easy typing of the kahako or macron over vowels in certain words that changes their meaning and the ‘okina, a glottal stop, which also changes the meaning of words using the same letters.

Currently, the Hawaiian Keyboard for Chrome OS is available for free in Google’s Chrome Store at https://tinyurl.com/chomehawaiiankeyboard.

Since the Chrome OS release in 2011, devices that run the system have proved very popular, the UH-Maui College announcement said. They are inexpensive, start quickly, and have long battery life. Popular with educators, its general acceptance has grown during the COVID-19 pandemic as classes from kindergarten through university graduate programs have gone online, with students completing many of their classes and assignments from home.

It’s estimated that 17 million Chrome OS devices were shipped in 2019, and that 20 million will be sold in 2020, the news release said.

“Given the rapid growth of Chrome OS devices at all levels of education in recent months, this kind of functionality has been desperately needed,” said Donaghy. “I’m hopeful we can convince Google to include this keyboard with all Chrome OS systems as Apple and Microsoft do, so that users won’t have to do this manual installation.”

Instructions on the keyboard’s installation and activation are found on Donaghy’s website at http://keoladonaghy.com/olelo-tech/chrome-os-hawaiian-keyboard/.

Hawaiian has been supported in Macintosh OS since 2002, when Donaghy and colleagues at University of Hawai’i-Hilo’s Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke’elikolani of Hawaiian Language worked with Apple programmers to include Hawaiian language support resources — including a keyboard — into Mac OS and again a few years later in iOS, the software that runs iPhones and iPads.

In 2010, they worked with programmers at Microsoft to include these same resources in Windows 10. These resources continue to be included with all computers and devices that operate using MacOS, iOS and Windows.

The absence of a Hawaiian keyboard that allows users to easily type the Hawaiian diacritical marks on Chrome OS devices has been lamented by teachers and students of Hawaiian medium education programs, such as the Punana Leo Preschools and the Department of Education’s Papahana Kaiapuni Hawai’i (Hawaiian Immersion Program), as well as by instructors and students of Hawaiian language at all levels, the news release said.

“The solution is now available,” the news release said.

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