University of Hawai‘i Maui College Assistant Professor Dr. Keola Donaghy has developed and Google has just released a Hawaiian language keyboard extension for users of the Chome OS (operating system). It is finally possible to easily type the kahakō – a macron character that appears over vowels in certain words and changes their meaning when used – and the ‘okina – a glottal stop.
Since the Chrome OS release in 2011, devices that run the system have proved very popular. They are inexpensive, start quickly, and have long battery life. Always popular with educators, its general acceptance has grown exponentially 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.
“Given the rapid growth of Chrome OS devices at all levels of education in recent months, this kind of functionality has been desperately needed,” says 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.”
For now, the Hawaiian Keyboard for Chrome OS is available for free in Google’s Chrome Store at the following URL: https://tinyurl.com/chomehawaiiankeyboard
Instructions on the keyboard’s installation and activation are found on Dinghy’s website: 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‘elikōlani 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 iPhone 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 Mac OS, 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 Pūnana 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 solution is now available.