Typoglycemia?

By L. Dennis Burns, CAPP

A recent Kimley-Horn internal “Quality Moves” article began:

Aoccdrnig to rscheearch codnutced at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in what oredr the ltteers in a wrod are tpyed, the olny ipormetnt thing is that the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit oredr. The rset can be a ttoal mses, and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig, huh?

The research is largely true. Except for some incremental slowing when we read, we really can understand the meaning of words and sentences like those above. If the first and last letters are right and the interior letters are present, we can understand the word—even if the interior letters are scrambled. If you’ve never seen this, now you have a new trick.

A few of our quality take-aways from this interesting research, updated to today’s technology environment:

  • First, in today’s environment, we use our machines to automate insertions and fix misspelled words or dimensions on plans. Those autocorrect fixes can be funny or even painful when they are wrong. And, as we know, they CAN be wrong.
  • Additionally, the colloquial or casual use of misspelled words has become a thing (just ask your Starbucks barista). Ur habits and use of technology combined with the hard-wiring of our brains compound the problem. Sometimes we mhigt msis the same msitkae we made the frsit time. That’s YUGE 4 us—even if we think we’ve used our tech tools in an acceptable way.
  • We must continue to discipline ourselves to reconsider reviewing our own work or picking who we choose for quality control checks. Even though you are focused and have blocked out distractions, familiarity with the material might be working against us. That’s one of the reasons why our QC/QA Manual says to get a fresh set of eyes to do an independent review.

Bottom line: Just like parking, Quality Matters!

Dennis Burns, CAPP, is regional vice president with Kimley-Horn.

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