A CONTINUUM OF CONSIDERATIONS ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY
For the Mechanics of Writing
For the Mechanics of Writing
The use of word processing with word prediction improves the legibility and spelling of written assignments completed by some children. Keyboarding has been found to have only low to moderate correlation with handwriting performance, suggesting that they require distinctly different skills.
Research Center - Center for Implementing Technology in Education : Technology to Support Writing states that:
"Technology—and especially the subset of technology tools known as assistive technology—can be an effective, if not necessary, element of the writing curriculum for students with disabilities. Assistive technology (AT) can be defined as a technology (including the training and support to use it) that allows someone to accomplish a critical educational or life task. Since writing is so integral to school success, AT is often indicated to assist students with disabilities."
Breaking handwriting supports down into 3 categories: no tech, low tech and high tech
No Tech/ Low Tech Options:
- Enlarged worksheets or worksheet sections cut, separated and recopied
- Sticky notes for fill in the blanks and for adding notes
- Writing on every other line to increase legibility
- Allow single word, short answers, sentence fragments
- Provide extra time on assignments
- Double grade papers: content and presentation
- Pencils of various widths
- Pencils with softer lead
- Pens with different grips
- Gel pens for an easier slide
- Pens or pencils that provide a light as the student writes
- Full page handwriting guides or sentence windows to help stay within a designated writing space
- Use Wikki Stix to help keep writing within a designated space
- Slant boards
- Grammar color coded magnetic words
- Selection of specially lined papers (raised lines, colored lines, extra space between lines, graph paper, wider lines)
- Correction fluid pens
- NCR paper notes or copies of peer notes
- Limited strategic use of oral dictation and reporting to demonstrate mastery of content
- Electronic tools (spell checker, language master)
High Tech Options:
- Portable word processors/text output devices
- Accessibility options in computer control panels to adjust repeat rates, mouse speed, assist with double click or click and drag, enlarge the cursor or change display options (available in both platforms: Apple/Windows)
- Document templates to set background color, font, bold text, text size and spacing features
- Software with word banks to structure simple sentence construction
- Worksheets scanned into text files
- Smart Pens allow you to record and transfer notes to a computer. (See "The Debate Over Smartpens in the Classroom")
- Typing programs to teach touch typing or increase keyboard familiarity
- Allow alternate methods for reporting and making presentations
Richard Wanderman offers Tips on Writing for People with Learning Disabilities which suggests that:
Electronic editing changes the writing process by separating the composition of ideas from printing the ideas on paper with ink. With a computer as a writing tool
- Handwriting problems disappear.
- Proofreading is easier because text is more legible.
- Students experience less frustration with the tool's limitations.
- Complete re-writes are unnecessary.
- Students produce less cramped vocabulary (and thinking) based on fear of making mistakes.
- Spelling and mechanics can be de-emphasized and moved to the end of the writing process.
- Organization can be dealt with easily by cutting and pasting and/or using outlining programs.
Teachers may find that many of the "special" features, designed with disabilities in mind, often promote enhanced writing in all of their student (a perfect example of Universal Design for Learning.)