I.C.T. for Writing



1. Programs to support Writing.
2. Word Processors.
3. Talking Word Processors.
    Write:OutLoud, Textease, WriteOnline, Communicate SymWriter.
4. Spellcheckers in Word Processors.
    Write:OutLoud.
5. Additional Onscreen Wordbanks and Grids.
Clicker, WriteOnline, Claro Wordbanks, Wordbar2.
6. Predictive programs.
    Penfriend, Co:Writer, ClaroRead, Read & Write Gold.
7. Typing and Keyboard Skills.
8. Voice or Speech Recognition Software.
9. Portable Word Processors and Writing Aids.
    Forte, WriteOnline.
10. Using the internet.
    Hi2U, WordPress.
11. Planning Software.
    WriteOnline.
12. Handwriting.


 

1. Programs to support Writing.

The programs and I.C.T. tools to support writing are not like those which support, teach and practise reading, phonics and spelling skills. They are not games and activities but open ended programs that scaffold and support dyslexic students.

Some suggestions here are I.C.T. tools that enable faster typing or more accurate spelling. Some suggestions are “low tech” solutions that may be all that is required.


 

2. Word Processors.

Word processing programs have made a major difference to many dyslexic users. They can help with writing in education, work and leisure activities. They can also be helpful for supporting the writing process (getting your ideas organised), and also for those who find presentation or handwriting a problem.

Asus eeePCWord processing is a key written communication tool used in schools, colleges and many work situations. It enables easy drafting and editing. Users can move written text around the page easily, using facilities such as delete, cut, copy and paste.

There is no pressure to worry about rewriting texts many times over to get a neat piece of writing. Word processed text always looks pleasing. It is particularly helpful in schools and colleges when pupils and students can type longer pieces of work or essays. They are easier for their teachers to read, too.

The font (the typed letters), size, colour and style can be changed easily. Underline, bold and italic are simple but effective tools. Often additional features such as borders, clipart and tables, can be added to text.

Some users like to word process, but type very slowly. Using additional wordbanks grids or predictive programs can help enter text more quickly. It can be useful to use the same word processing software at home as is used in school or work. Well known wordprocessors are Microsoft Word, Microsoft Works and the free Open Office which are sold with some computers, or can be easily purchased or down-loaded.

Most people are unaware of the many features that are provided by these professional word processors. There are utilities that will autocorrect or auto-complete words that are problematic for poor spellers; provide different coloured text and/or backgrounds; spelling and grammar support; a text highlighting tool; thesaurus; facility for recording short notes.

See B.D.A. tech page on Using Microsoft Word 2007.

Back to the menu

3. Talking Word Processors.

Some word processors have a speech facility to enable users to hear the words and sentences as they are being typed. The program uses synthesised (robotic sounding) speech. This can help accuracy and reassure users that the content makes sense.

Many such programs offer a range of voices to choose from. They are used in many schools especially at KS1, 2 & 3. Some programs will read toolbars and spellchecking menus, for example Write:OutLoud.
 

Textease, now from RM combines the use of a talking word processor with other desktop publishing tools.

Some talking word processors have an onscreen wordbank facility, which can save typing time. Wordbanks offer lists of regularly used words or subject vocabulary. Users click on the words they need from the list and it is entered into the text. WriteOnline

This saves typing time and concerns with spelling. Users can listen to the words before selecting the one they need. Users can also create their own personal lists to use in the wordbanks.

Communicate SymWriterSome dyslexic students with strong visualisation skills, benefit from using a talking word processor, where words are linked to symbolic representation. The symbols provide good support for preparing and editing work, but can be removed before the final printout. Symbols are more effective than spellcheckers and provide positive feedback for incorrect homonyms.

For example Communicate: SymWriter as described in Symbol support, Word and PDF files.

There are several other programs that help users to enter words and phrases quickly and save typing time. They can be used with any word processor or other program that needs a text input.

See B.D.A. tech page on Text to Speech.

Back to the menu

4. Spellcheckers in Word Processors.

Spellcheckers in word processors can help identify misspellings, or typing errors. However, many computer spellcheckers are not very helpful when suggesting a correction list. They usually suggest words that have the first two letters in the spelling error.

If these letters are wrong it may not suggest the word needed. e.g. type ‘sercle’ and the suggestions may be ‘serial’ or ‘serve’ but not ‘circle’. A handheld Spellchecker may be useful. These try to interpret phonic spellings, so typing in ‘sercl’ will get the suggestion ‘circle’.

Write:OutLoud, a talking wordprocessor uses the Franklin spellchecking algorithms in the program.

Wordprocessing tools such as search and replace however will find repeated errors and correct them. The error (e.g. thay) and corrected version (they) need only be typed once and the other corrections will be done automatically. Microsoft Word has a facility to autocorrect common, or personal spelling errors.

See B.D.A. tech page on Spell-checkers.

Back to the menu

5. Additional Onscreen Wordbanks and Grids.

Additional onscreen wordbanks and grids in Clicker6, WriteOnline, CoWriter and Symwriter, have their own speech facility enabling users to hear the words. They can offer multiple lists of words or phrases on screen, for use with any word processor.

clicker6Users click on the word or phrase and it is typed automatically into the word processor. Pictures and recorded speech can be added to some wordbanks such as Clicker6, which is useful for younger users.

See NTC information about Clicker, in Word and PDF files.

WriteOnline contains predictive typing, mindmapping and text-to-speech. It can be accessed from anywhere where there is internet access. See B.D.A. tech Word and PDF files on WriteOnline.

Claro WordBanks provide a useful technique for introducing students to word processing and writing using a computer. Children generally learn to recognise words before they can construct and spell them, so WordBanks can help students generate meaningful text from an early stage.

The created word banks are easy to create and are also good tools for teaching vocabulary and for sentence building where vocabulary is predictable and defined or limited. Writers with spelling difficulties can also use the created word banks to select longer and more difficult words, as well as generate ideas for word choice. They also allow for faster working by selecting whole or sections of words, where typing is slow.

WordBanks allow teachers or students to quickly create on-screen word banks. Simply import a list of words from any source using the WordBanks Editor. Users can decide the size of each word bank, how to index it, whether the words will speak and other options. The word bank can then be published and run, and words can be selected using a mouse device or touch screen.
Single copies cost £59 (ex V.A.T.)

wordbar2Older users will find Wordbar2 useful with wordprocessors like Microsoft Word. The free-standing program is no longer for sale as Crick have included it as one of the options in Write Online. However, for schools or individuals who already have a copy, it is still useful for entering text into other wordprocessors.

These Wordbanks enable words and phrases to be entered quickly and accurately and help users with difficult or subject specific spellings. Teachers can create their own grids of words for an individual student or a specific subject use. The Crick programs have many useful ready made files that can still be down-loaded free from their website, for use at all Key Stages. You need Clicker6 on PC or Mac and any Clicker app on iPad.

Keeping up with the times, Crick has now developed a suite of apps, which run on an iPad. They have specific aspects of the main program and will accept the resources from Learning Grids. Clicker web gives details of how to use them and what they do. Clicker Sentences, Clicker Connect, Clicker Docs, Clicker Books.

sentences connect
docs clickerbks


Back to the menu

6. Predictive programs.

Predictive programs can be used to reduce keystrokes, save typing time and aid spelling. After just one or two keystrokes, these programs try to guess which common or regularly used words the user is trying to type.

Penfriend GermanIt presents the suggestions in a window on the screen, so the user can listen and is then more likely to recognise and select the appropriate word. For example, type the letter ‘t’ and up to 8 or 9 common words are suggested, such as ‘the’, ‘this’, ‘there’, ‘they’, etc.

Read and Write GoldMany of these programs also have a speech facility enabling the word processor to talk. Programs such a Penfriend XP, Co:Writer, ClaroRead and Read & Write Gold are good examples. Penfriend XP provides prediction and onscreen keyboards. The XL version supports a number of European languages.

Many predictive programs have additional facilities to make any on-screen, text speak not just in word processors. This can be useful to use in other applications, with e-mail and the internet.

The UK version of Co:Writer 7 has a much improved interface and offers writing support tools, word prediction and new voices. There is also a CoWriter app, but as iOS limits to one application at a time, students write in a dedicated writing space then copy and paste into other apps.

 

7. Typing and Keyboard Skills.

To make full use of word processing it is helpful to develop efficient and accurate keyboard and typing skills. See B.D.A. tech page on Typing.

Back to the menu

8. Voice or Speech Recognition Software.

Voice or speech recognition software enables users to speak the words they want to word process. This can be a useful option especially for older pupils, students and adults. However, it may not be as easy as it sounds. It takes time and training. It is not very appropriate for use in the classroom, but can be valuable for producing extended pieces of work in a quiet environment or at home. For more information visit NTC page on Speech Recognition, User experience, S.R. Parental advice, S.R. questions.

If voice recognition software is used, it is better to dictate into the Wordpad utility rather than the more more complex Microsoft Word. All the ‘bells and whistles’ of Microsoft Word have an adverse effect on the speed which words are dictated. Having created the dictated text in Wordpad, the file can be transferred to Microsoft Word, where it can be benefit from the more sophisticated editing functions.

Back to the menu

9. Portable Word Processors and Writing Aids.

Many dyslexic users need access to a word processor much of the time, especially in education. A laptop PC or Android tablet or iPad may provide a solution for older students and adults.

Forte

Forte

Often a small portable wordprocessor, with text prediction and (rather robotic) speech, like the Forte, or a netbook with Write:Outloud and Co:Writer, or access to WriteOnline, will be the best solution, especially for younger users. They look a bit like small laptop computers with smaller screens.  There is a variety of these available. They can be powered with batteries or mains adaptors. Schools may still have Alphasmarts or Neos, which are no longer manufactured, but are still useful

The best ones for dyslexic use often have full size keyboards.

Users can type in their text, save it, transfer it to a desktop machine, or print it directly. Some have additional facilities such as organisers, calculators or predictive programs.

Back to the menu

10. Using the internet.

Many very successful professional web page authors are dyslexic and this seems to be an area where dyslexic attributes are a positive advantage. Some dyslexic school children have suddenly seen the point of learning to communicate through writing, in order to get their ideas on to the web. A good example can be seen at Hi2u.

For the really knowledgeable, these pages are created in the HTML programming language, but it is possible to create pages in most word processing and desktop publishing programs. Then you need to contact your Internet Service Provider to find out how to upload them to the web.  An easier route is to use WordPress to create your own blog. Face-book and Twitter are modern and sociable ways of encouraging writing, but young people need to be aware of the dangers of revealing too much personal information.

E-mail can be a big incentive to encourage reluctant writers, especially when there is a rapid response from the other person.  Correct spelling and punctuation is not such a big issue as in more formal writing.  For those who use SymWriter, there are add-ons which allow symbols to be used in e-mails and for reading web pages.

Back to the menu

11. Planning Software.

Mind-mapping is a dyslexic tool and reflects the way some visual dyslexics organise their ideas. There are now several computer programs that enable ideas to “bubble up” in a visual format without anxieties of spelling, grammar or sequencing.  Write Online includes a ‘Workspace’ option which is integral with the document.  There are 10 useful 90 second training clips and pdf guides, which can be viewed even if you do not have the program.

Once the ideas are ready, they can be organised as a map and saved as a text outline.

This can then be worked up into an essay or report and imported into a word processor. The mind-map itself can be kept as a useful tool for later exam revision purposes.

Details of mind-mapping software are in B.D.A. Tech Mind Maps page.

Back to the menu

12. Handwriting.

Whilst developing wordprocessing skills are very beneficial for dyslexic users, some may still want to improve their physical handwriting. The kinaesthetic action of forming letters into words is very important in providing proprioceptive feedback to the brain, in the early stages of learning to read and write, and the development of learning to spell. Some children with dyslexic and dyspraxic learning differences benefit from formal handwriting exercises, where they can concentrate on the process rather than the content.

Handwriting for Windows (KBER) allows the teacher or carer to generate handwriting practice sheets quickly and easily in a variety of layouts. Once the preferred style has been set up, it can be used to create handwriting sheets of work the child has already created on the computer.

B.D.A. has a useful page on handwriting.

© B.D.A. New Technologies Committee. May 2015.
Copies of this page may be made providing it is unchanged and the source is acknowledged.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s