Learning Disabilities and Assistive Technologies Guide: Chapter 4.1 - Writing Strategies

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Writing Strategies

LOW TECH WRITING AIDES

Pencil grips - building up the shaft of a pencil or pen can help the user control the pencil for easier writing. Incline Board – writing on a 15-30 degree surface can help especially young writers get better control on the paper. Bold lined or Raised Line Paper – Tools originally used for persons with visual impairments can also help those with learning disabilities. Paper with bolder lines or raised lines helps writers stay on the lines while writing. Writing guides – Plastic guides for one to multiple lines provide more of a guide than raised line. Word Lists – word lists, either made for the individual or commercially made (Quick Word Book) provide models for correct spelling Wipe-Off Boards – beginning writers can practice writing using personal dry erase boards.

MID TECH WRITING AIDES

Electronic Spell Checkers – hand held spell checkers are easier to use than print dictionaries because a user can make a guess at spelling and get a list of possibilities. Auditory feedback is available in more expensive versions. Franklin– makes numerous hand held spell checkers and dictionaries PDA software applications - available in Palm and Windows versions

Portable Word Processors – allows users to use keyboarding to write documents. Portable word processors have spell check, limited editing capabilities and some can have word prediction. Most run on batteries, require no boot up time, and weigh less than 2 pounds.

Recorders – analog and digital recorders are used to take lecture notes, record short passages in leiu of handwriting, dictating, or brainstorming. Digital recorders can capture lectures for speech to text conversion. This method works more effectively if the lecturer can complete voice recognition training on the computer being used to convert the lecture to text.


HIGH TECH WRITING AIDES

HARDWARE

Computers - computers change the writing process by: Eliminating handwriting problems, Making proofreading easier because text is more legible, Software editing tools help writers experience fewer difficulties with spelling and grammar,

Alternative Input –

• Alternative Keyboards – can be programmed to change keyboards layouts for easier use • Cursor Control – Trackballs, joysticks, track pads, touch screens, head mouse

SOFTWARE

Word processors features – most word processors have features that can help poor writers with some writing problems.

• Auto Correct - corrects commonly misspelled words or allows user to input abbreviations to be expanded when typed such as typing “AT” and having it change to “assistive technology”. • Auto Text – Input text used frequently into auto text. As user starts the text a box pops up on screen, hit the enter key and the text is inserted into document. • Spell and Grammar checks • Dictionary and Thesaurus • Highlighting pens • Auto Summarize – extracts main points in documents and either highlights them or creates a new document with extracted text. • Change background and text color, font and size • Track editing changes

Auditory Word Processors – give auditory feedback after user types a letter, word, sentence and/or paragraph. Possible features of programs – (check each application for needed features before purchasing)

• Change auditory feedback for after letter, word, sentence and/or paragraph. • Import text from other sources • Add graphics • Change visual features (text/background color, size, font) • Open multiple documents formats

Word Prediction/Completion programs - display a list of words after a user types several letters. Possible features of prediction programs – (check each application for needed features before purchasing)

• Choose number of words in list • Phonetic spelling • Create multiple user profiles • Auditory feedback • Switch scanning capabilities • Create topic dictionaries • Change visual features (text/background color, size, font) • Prediction box follow cursors or stays in place • Changes sizes of predictive dictionary • Intelligent prediction – learns users vocabulary and predicts his/her vocabulary sooner • Has abbreviation expansion

Graphical Word Processors - allow graphics to be used with or without text to aid users unable to use or read normal text.

Speech Recognition Software – Speech recognition software technology has improved dramatically in the last year. It is now possible for persons with consistent speech to use speech recognition software to write. There is still a need for a training period and to have appropriate accessories. The following are required for good results:

• Minimum 256 Mg of RAM. 512 is better • Auditory sound check at each use • Use oral commands to correct mistakes instead of keyboard • USB microphone • Train using readings at least twice • Have software analyze writer documents • Save user profiles after each use • Use the latest version of software

Outlining/Brainstorming Software – Organizing software can help persons who have difficulty getting started and organizing written projects. Brainstorming can be easily formatted into an outline and then edited to a finished product. Some applications allow graphics such as Inspiration and Kidspiration. Others provide more cueing and support for outlining such as Draftbuilder.

Scanning and Form Typer Software – writers who have difficulty completing forms, worksheets, or other work on printed material can scan the hard copy and complete the work in an electronic format. Users can draw and write on the scanned sheet using paint, pen, eraser, and fill tools. Form Typer software creates fields at blank lines which are accessed using the Tab Key. New in 2003 is Test Talker software which allows a user to scan a test for a student to complete electronically using any needed access method. Test Talker will read the test aloud to the student as well. This software makes standardized tests accessible to any student.


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