Thursday, August 30, 2012

Writing and Spelling TTS, Word Prediction, Spellcheck, Supports

This is part of a series of blogs our Director, Alan Knue, has composed to help people increase their reading and writing efficiency

As stated in Reading with Text-to-Speech, the text-to-speech feature (TTS) can be very useful for students who have difficulty reading.Text-to-speech (TTS) can be very useful for students who have difficulty reading. TTS is also very important as a writing support. Students can hear the letters, words, and sentences as they are typed, making it easier to detect when the words are types incorrectly. In conjunction with spell check in word processors, a student can see misspelled words easier and then have each letter in the word read out loud, aiding the student in learning the actual spelling of a word. If a student has difficulty knowing which word is correct in a spellcheck list, TTS can also be used to read the spell check list out loud.
Word processors, such as Microsoft Word, have additional features that help students in increasing writing and spelling speed and accuracy. Abbreviation/expansion and auto-correction help increase typing speed. Many programs also provide a built in Dictionary and Thesaurus, which can allow a student to look up definitions for unfamiliar words or find synonyms. 
What about students who have difficulty coming up with or correctly spelling words? Word prediction can help a student select the correct word as they type by “predicting” which words the user is trying to type and listing them to be selected. Word prediction learns with the student and aids in finding the correct spelling of a word. Coupled with TTS for reading, word prediction can be a powerful tool in assisting spelling and writing. Assistance with making a distinction between homophones, words that sound the same but are spelled differently (i.e., see and sea) by providing a definition or by giving an example in context can be used in conjunction with word prediction to aid in choosing the right word. Many of the software programs listed in Reading with Text-to-Speech include word prediction and homophone support.
Word prediction will not increase writing speed, as it is meant as an aid in selecting the correct word in terms of sentence placement and spelling and this is often a relatively slow process. It has been demonstrated that students who learn to keyboard have greater success in writing. Simple aids, such as keyboard covers and typing programs can be employed to help students learn to keyboard effectively. Becoming even an average keyboardist will improve writing speed.
Speech recognition programs are also popular writing aids, but are they for you? Find out in the next blog post.

As always our AT Specialists are available to work with and explore the specific needs of students and their support team when determining what options might work best. These products and many others are available for short term loan through WATAP's Device Lending Library to help individuals make an informed decision about what products will work best for them.

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