France's ministry of culture and communication says it's "nearly impossible to correctly write French" on its current keyboards, and so has teamed up with a standardization group -- AFNOR -- to create a new norm. This summer, that norm will be shown to the public, at which time feedback will be taken and considered for potential further iteration.
Where keyboards in the US and Europe use the QWERTY layout (with rare exception), French keyboards (like the one pictured here) utilize an AZERTY layout and suffer from a lack of standardization, so you'll see all kinds of variations from manufacturer to manufacturer, and what is seen will often be non-intuitive. As a result, what should be simple, nearly effortless actions like typing accented capital letters can be frustrating, obscure, and even impossible, leading to citizens taking liberties with the language and sometimes incorrectly expressing ideas as a result. Recent studies have shown more spelling errors among French students, which some blame at least partly on this keyboard issue.
Curiously, the new standard will be voluntary to manufacturers, the exception being for computers used within the field of public administration.
Languages other than French will be incorporated into the design, given France is very much a multilingual country.
In the meantime, French speakers in the know recommend the French Canadian keyboard, which goes with the QWERTY design while offering for the most part easy accenting and other special actions.
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