Install fonts and keyboards for Indigenous languages

 


Why do you need to install a special keyboard and font?


Many First Nations languages require a number of characters that are not available on the standard English keyboard. To type these characters, you must install:

  1. A virtual keyboard (a program which reorganizes the characters available on your physical keyboard)

  2. A good font that renders characters in Indigenous languages properly

For some characters to appear properly at all, you must be using Windows XP or Mac 10.2 or higher. These operating systems support the Unicode standard, which is the system that allows all characters to be displayed properly and consistently across different devices and the internet. Earlier PC and Mac operating systems do not support Unicode technology sufficiently. Even if you are using a recent operating system, not all of your applications will necessarily be Unicode compliant.

Keyboard safety and privacy

FirstVoices keyboards, including the mobile app and computer keyboards, do NOT view, track, or log any of your personal data (such as passwords, credit card info, etc) and are safe to use. However, many installers will prompt you about data security before installing any software that affects your keyboard.

 


Installing the correct font


A font is a set of images that are used to design how a specific character or letter should show up on the screen. Some common fonts include Times New Roman, Arial, and Calibri.

It is important to use a font that includes designs for all Indigenous special characters. If the font you are using does not include a design for a character that is typed, then it may look like you are typing a white box instead. FirstVoices uses the font BC Sans, which renders all characters used in BC languages.

  1. Click here to download the BC Sans font

  2. Once the download is complete, unzip the font

  3. Open the unzipped font folder to see the "Regular", "Bold", "Italic", and "BoldItalic" font files

  4. For PC computers with Windows 7, 8, 10

    • Double click the font file and Font Viewer will open a preview of the font

    • Right click on the font file and click “Install”

    • Repeat for each of the four font files in order to be able to use regular, bold, italic, and bold+italic fonts

    For Mac computers

    • Double click the unzipped font file and Font Book will open a preview of the font

    • Click “Install Font” at the bottom of the preview window

  5. You may need to restart your computer for the font to be available in all applications

Use caution with custom fonts. If you are using a custom font to type special characters in your language, you may be unable to paste your text in new applications or type correctly on websites like Facebook. This means your font is not Unicode-compliant, and you may be at risk of losing your language data if the font is ever corrupted or lost. For support, contact hello@firstvoices.com.

 


Installing the correct keyboard


On a phone or tablet

If you are installing the FirstVoices keyboard for your language on mobile devices, such as a phone or tablet, you can download the FirstVoices Keyboards app on for iPhone/iPad or Android. Search for "FirstVoices" in the App Store for iPhone/iPad or in the Google Play Store for Android.

On a computer

Installing the FirstVoices keyboard for your language on a computer will be done through a keyboard software called Keyman. Go to https://keyman.com and follow along with the instructions in the following videos. If you are not sure what language keyboard you are looking for, check the search instructions at the bottom of this page.

Install keyboards on Mac computer

 

Install keyboards on a Windows PC

 

Using keyboards on Chromebooks

If you are installing your keyboard on a Chromebook, Keyman keyboards are not currently compatible. However, if the model of your Chromebook has Tablet Mode, then you can use the FirstVoices Keyboard App from the Google Play store when the Chromebook is in tablet mode. And for Chromebooks that don't have tablet mode, a FirstVoices Chromebook extension is now available for some keyboards. If you would like your keyboard added to the Chromebook extension, email us at hello@firstvoices.com

 

For a more detailed installation guide or help with a specific issue, check out the following pages:

If you need extra help installing a keyboard, please email us at hello@firstvoices.com.

 


Finding your language keyboard


Screenshot of the top navigation menu of a FirstVoices site. Under Resources, there is a dropdown that says Keyboards.

If you are interested in the keyboard for a particular FirstVoices language site, you can follow these steps:

  1. Visit the FirstVoices Explore Languages page.

  2. Find the language site you are interested, and click on it.

  3. In the top menu, click “Resources > Keyboards”.

  4. Look for information about the available keyboard.

If you do not find a keyboard linked there, you can go directly to Keyman.com and search for the name of your language, or check our list of available keyboards:

Click here to find and search all available FirstVoices keyboards.

 

Can’t find the right keyboard for your language?

If your community doesn't have an existing FirstVoices Keyman keyboard that suits your unique orthography, the FirstVoices team can develop one for you!

Click here to read about how to Request a new keyboard or Contribute to FirstVoices keyboards.