The assistive technologies used for writing are not all linked to the computer; some are as simple as pen grips. There are many types of handwriting accessory, including writing slopes to aid those with dexterity and mobility difficulties and frames for students with visual impairments. Hand-held spell checkers and dictionaries can be used at any time and spell checkers on the computer may include speech output as a way of ensuring the correct word has been chosen for students who have specific learning difficulties. Screen readers and text to speech are also used for proof reading.
Word prediction software allows word finishing and speeds up typing when dexterity and mobility difficulties exist. Speech or voice recognition allows hands-free dictation and voice commands for navigation within the document. This type of software can assist those with mobility, dexterity and specific learning difficulties. Some students who are blind or visually impaired have also mastered the techniques of speech recognition with screen reading feedback.
Word processing with checkers and speech output tends to be available in computer labs and study areas.
Mobile phones use letter-to-word prediction technologies with few choices. The same technology on a computer is more sophisticated, and may be subject specific or have more extensive choice.
Recorded dictation, for example of personal notes and memos, may be linked to speech recognition software and used for writing assignments and in examinations. You may be prepared to learn the use of a speech recognition system, in which case the voice files you produce can be held centrally and downloaded for wide use.
Not all spell checking devices or software carry specialist vocabulary. Complex words may have to be added to their databases.
Proof reading with screen reading or text to speech technology can take longer than visual checking, so you should allow some flexibility in time limits.
Word prediction can slow those who type adequately, and it may be preferable to offer a word bank of specialist phrases.
Speech recognition cannot be used in general lecture situations with anyone dictating – each speaker has to train in its use. Some words may be transposed or introduced in a way that can affect meaning. Students with specific learning difficulties including dyslexia may not notice these changes.