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Frequently Asked Questions Concerning the Use of Computers in UIL Debate

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Should our squad use computers?
  • Students type faster than they write.
  • School budgets allow accessibility or students have personal laptops.
  • Note: All students still need to know how to flow in the traditional manner. Rules do not mandate use of computers in order to debate.
Will the tournament director have to check every computer to confirm students have removed or disabled wireless capability before the tournament begins?
Is it the judge’s responsibility to check computers?
Is it always the student’s responsibility to disable internet capabilities in the round even if they are not reminded to do so?
Yes. If the debater decides to use a computer, it is the debater’s responsibility to know and follow the guidelines, whether reminded by a tournament official or not.
Can we use a printer? If so, when can it be utilized?
Yes. Use common sense
  • Get a silent printer as opposed to a noisy one. Print:
  • Between speeches
  • During prep time
  • After round (only if necessary)
Is a team allowed to use a “countdown timer” on their computer?
Yes. You can download them free. One source is Some “sit” on top of an Excel spreadsheet.
May cell phones be used as timers?
Yes, as long as set to airplane mode, all wireless connectivity functions disabled.
Is PowerPoint allowed?
Not under the current guidelines.
Can we use “bluetooth” technology?
Can Google Desktop software be used?
Yes. This software only searches files on your own computer, not the Internet.
Is a scanner allowed?
No. Guidelines do not include this accessory.
Contest Rules state all participants must present upon demand of debater evidence used in the round. With computers, how will we do this?
There are several options, such as using a flashdrive. However, your opponent may not be using a computer. We recommend that you give the evidence to the opposing team in hard copy and then get it back. (See question concerning printers in the round.)
Should computers impact delivery style?
Computers should not diminish the emphasis UIL places on communicative delivery.
  • Debaters may not speak sitting behind the laptop screen, but are expect to stand at the front of the room to deliver a professional presentation.
  • Debaters still need to be making at least fifty percent eye contact with the judge.
  • UIL rule on presentation is real world. Professionals in the business world, lawyers in a courtroom, do not sit behind their computer screen. Eye contact with their audience is critical.
Can you revise a card with your computer?
No. Just as in a round without computers, this is a violation of ethics.
Can you use the recorder on your laptop to record the round from your computer?
No. C&CR prohibits recording.
May spectators use computers while watching a round?

Additional Recommendations

  • Travel with an outlet strip.
  • Travel with a small, quiet printer.
  • Travel with an extra battery, if possible.
  • Carry an Expand-o file with:
    • A. A printed hard copy of your 1AC
    • B. Commonly used topicality arguments and case response briefs
    • C. Most commonly used disadvantages
  • Use common sense when printing during the round. See question above that addresses printers.
  • Know how to flow the traditional way.
  • Remember that presentation skills are important.


    What if I have a question that is not answered here?

    We encourage you to view the Power Point entitled "Using Computers in Debate" posted on the speech page of the UIL website.

    Feel free to contact the UIL State Director. E-mail is the easiest and quickest way to get a response. You may also call or write:

    Jana Riggins
    UIL Director - Speech & Debate
    University of Texas, Austin
    Box 8028
    Austin, TX 78713-8028
    512-232-1499 fax