Assistive Technology-Writing

Last week I talked about using assistive technology to help students with learning disabilities read. Through audiobooks or text to speech apps, the written word is made enjoyable for people who would otherwise avoid it. This opens the door for these students to gain information and higher levels of knowledge. Another area that students with Dyslexia or other learning disabilities struggle with is writing. Writing can be so cumbersome and problematic for students that they are unable to take notes or get their thoughts down on paper.

There are many touch typing tutors that are good alternatives for manual writing. Touch typing tutors are programs that help students learn this skill. This removes the stress of writing so that the student can focus on content instead of the labor of forming the letters. I have used Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing with my students. It is a user-friendly program and useful for teens and adults.

Smartpens are very useful note taking tools. They are used to write text, track the text being written, and then recreates the notes into digital form. The pen then uploads the notes to your smartphone, tablet, or PC for further processing or electronic distribution. Some of these pens, like the Livescribe or Echo Smartpen, record audio. This would be very useful for students taking notes in class.

Finally, speech-to-text or dictation technology converts the spoken word to printed text. This is useful for students who can formulate thoughts and phrases in their head but may have difficulty getting these thoughts and phrase on paper. Students can dictate on their smartphones or tablets. Two leading speech-to-text programs are Dragon NaturallySpeaking and Dragon Dictate.

Remember that assistive technology is not cheating! It is used to give students confidence and independence that they have never had before and access to higher levels of information. This should be our goal as educators and parents.



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