USING TECHNOLOGY TO IMPROVE THE LITERACY SKILLS OF STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES
Computers. Computers change the writing process by eliminating handwriting problems, making proofreading easier because text is more legible, and including software-editing tools that help writers experience fewer difficulties with spelling and grammar.
Word-Prediction and Word-Completion Programs. These programs display a list of words after a user types several letters; such software is typically used in conjunction with a word- processing program (e.g., Write:OutLoud®) or a portable keyboarding device (e.g., AlphaSmart®
. Possible features of prediction programs include: a number of possible words in a list, phonetic spelling, multiple user profiles, auditory feedback, switching of scanning capabilities, topic dictionaries, changeable visual features, a prediction box that either follows the cursor or stays in place, the ability to change the size of the predictive dictionary, and abbreviation expansion (e.g., CoWriter®, WriteAway 2000). Word-prediction software also can provide support to students who have problems with vocabulary and word-finding.
Problem: Student has difficulty organizing written information. Solution: Use outlining or brainstorming software.
Outlining and Brainstorming Software. These products can help students who have difficulty getting started and organizing written projects. Some applications, such as Inspiration and Kidspiration, allow graphics. Others, such as DraftBuilder®, provide more cueing and support for outlining and first-draft preparation.
Problem: Traditional input into the computer is not efficient. Solution: Speech-recognition software, alternative input, and scanning and form-typing software.
Speech-Recognition Software. This software (e.g., Dragon Naturally Speaking) allows the individual to speak into a microphone and have the text be transferred to the computer.
Alternative Input or Keyboards. These products (e.g., AFC Access: TouchWindow, mouse-driven keyboards) can be programmed to change keyboard layouts for easier use. Other options include trackballs, joysticks, track pads, touch screens, and a head mouse.
Scanning and Form-Typing Software. These help writers who have difficulty completing forms, worksheets, or other work on printed material. With this, writers can scan the hard copy and complete the work in an electronic format through drawing and writing on the scanned sheet with program tools such as paint, pen, eraser, and fill.
The assistive technologies discussed above help compensate for writing problems. There are also numerous software applications and other programs that work on increasing writing skills. Hyperstudio/Sunburst Write On! Plus: Writing With Picture Books is among the most popular programs.
Learning Point Associates