Menu

Assistive Technology Tools: Writing

By: Kristin Stanberry, Marshall H. Raskind
Learn about assistive technology tools — from abbreviation expanders to word-recognition software programs — that address your child's specific writing difficulties.

There is a wide range of assistive technology (AT) tools available to help students who struggle with writing. Some of these tools help students circumvent the actual physical task of writing, while others facilitate proper spelling, punctuation, grammar, word usage, and organization.

AT tools that assist with writing fall into several categories:

Abbreviation expanders

Used with word processing, these software programs allow a user to create, store, and re-use abbreviations for frequently-used words or phrases. This can save the user keystrokes and ensure proper spelling of words and phrases he has coded as abbreviations. This type of tool benefits people who struggle with writing.

Products to consider

Resources to help you evaluate assistive technology for your child

Alternative keyboards

These programmable keyboards have special overlays that customize the appearance and function of a standard keyboard. Students who have LD or have trouble typing may benefit from customization that reduces input choices, groups keys by color/location, and adds graphics to aid comprehension. This type of tool benefits people who struggle with writing.

Products to consider

Resources to help you evaluate assistive technology for your child

Back to Top

Graphic organizers & outlining

Graphic organizers and outlining programs help users who have trouble organizing and outlining information as they begin a writing project. This type of program lets a user "dump" information in an unstructured manner and later helps him organize the information into appropriate categories and order. This type of tool benefits people who struggle with writing.

Resources to help you evaluate assistive technology for your child

Back to Top

Paper-based computer pen

This technology records and links audio to what a person writes using the pen and special paper. It enables the user to take notes while simultaneously recording someone( e.g., a teacher) speaking. The user can later listen to any section of his notes by touching the pen to his corresponding handwriting or diagrams. This type of tool may benefit people who struggle with writing, listening, memory and reading.

Products to consider

Resources to help you evaluate assistive technology for your child

Back to Top

Portable word processors

A portable word processor is lightweight device that is easy to transport (e.g., from classroom to home). It can be helpful to kids who may have trouble writing by hand and prefer to use a keyboard. Word processing allows the user to edit and correct his written work more efficiently than doing so by hand. This type of tool benefits people who struggle with writing.

Products to consider

Resources to help you evaluate assistive technology for your child

Back to Top

Proofreading software programs

Students who struggle with writing (e.g., spelling, grammar, punctuation, word usage, and sentence structure) may benefit from software programs (included in many word processing systems) that scan word processing documents and alert the user to possible errors. This type of tool benefits people who struggle with writing and spelling.

Products to consider

Most word processing software programs include proofreading programs. They may be identified as spell-checkers or grammar-checkers within a word processing program.

Resources to help you evaluate assistive technology for your child

Back to Top

Speech recognition software programs

A speech recognition program works in conjunction with a word processor. The user "dictates" into a microphone, and his spoken words appear on the computer screen as text. This can help a user whose oral language ability is better than his writing skills. This type of tool benefits people who struggle with writing.

Products to consider

Resources to help you evaluate assistive technology for your child

Back to Top

Speech Synthesizers/Screen Readers

These systems can display and read aloud text on a computer screen, including text that has been typed by the user, scanned in from printed pages (e.g., books, letters), or text appearing on the Internet. This type of tool may benefit people who struggle with reading and writing.

Products to consider

Resources to help you evaluate assistive technology for your child

Back to Top

Talking spell-checkers/electronic dictionaries

Talking spell checkers and electronic dictionaries can help a poor speller select or identify appropriate words and correct spelling errors during the process of writing and proofreading.  Talking devices "read aloud" and display the selected words onscreen, so the user can see and hear the words. This type of tool benefits people who struggle with writing and spelling.

Products to consider

Resources to help you evaluate assistive technology for your child

Back to Top

Word prediction software programs

Word prediction software can help a user during word processing by "predicting" a word the user intends to type. Predictions are based on spelling, syntax, and frequent/recent use. This prompts kids who struggle with writing to use proper spelling, grammar, and word choices, with fewer keystrokes. This type of tool benefits people who struggle with writing.

Products to consider

Resources to help you evaluate assistive technology for your child

The assistive technology products listed on our site have been compiled under the direction of Marshall Raskind, Ph.D. This does not represent a comprehensive list. The inclusion of any product is not intended as an endorsement. The information is provided to guide parents and educators in selecting products to meet children's specific needs.

Back to Top

Kristin Stanberry, Marshall H. Raskind (2009)

Reprints

You are welcome to print copies or republish materials for non-commercial use as long as credit is given to Reading Rockets and the author(s). For commercial use, please contact info@readingrockets.org.

Add comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.
Sign up for our free newsletters about reading
Advertisement
Reading Blogs
Start with a Book: Read. Talk. Explore.
"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." — Groucho Marx