When initially designing Typio, I did a whole lot of research into how to best calculate Words Per Minute (WPM). Since Typio is an educational program, it needed to follow the precedents already in place. Luckily, WPM calculation standards were already determined, so I just had to follow a formula. But there was still one big question…how do I apply a standard WPM classification while also allowing visually impaired students a chance to digest the information they are typing?
Ask the teachers!
In addition to drawing on my own experience of teaching countless typing lessons to adults who are visually impaired, I polled a good number of TVI’s who had taught typing to their students. Everyone had the same concern: visually impaired students need to be given a chance to digest the material they are typing. Understanding the material takes time and having a WPM countdown running in the background puts unnecessary stress on the student, resulting in them receiving a worse score than they deserved. That sure doesn’t help make typing fun.
So the question we were left with was how do we give the students a chance to digest and review the typing prompt while still giving an accurate WPM score?
A simple solution!
The resulting solution was rather simple and has been one of Typio’s greatest strengths. When a typing prompt is verbalized by the program, the WPM timer is stopped. Once the student presses any key, the WPM timer starts back up. So after each prompt is typed, the WPM timer doesn’t start up again until the next prompt is verbalized and the student begins typing. It’s as simple as that! This also allows visual students the chance to scan the screen before the timer starts up. Best of all, if a student presses the Control key to hear the typing prompt again, the timer is paused. This is even true if the student presses Control mid-prompt.
Testing proved the end result is a very accurate WPM score which more closely reflects a real-world typing speed for the student, in addition to an accessible and comfortable typing experience for students who might need a little extra accommodation to get the job done.
What if that solution doesn’t work?
In rare cases, teachers have needed to test the student’s typing speed in an environment where the WPM timer isn’t paused. Perhaps a formality or local standard insists the accommodation Typio provides doesn’t adhere to the curriculum’s standards. Well, in those cases, we suggest students use the Free Type mode. In Free Type, the students can type freely, with the WPM timer silently ticking away behind the scenes. There is no pausing of the WPM timer at any point. We’ll post more uses for Free Type mode in the future.
So, what is the WPM forumla?
For those who are curious, the industry standard WPM formula is as follows:
((Total Characters Typed / 5)/Minutes)
Why divide the characters by 5? Because that is the average word length in the English language. We can’t work with actual words because the word “A” and the word “magnanimous” would be considered equal, while they each require a different amount of effort to type.