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You are in: Home > Articles > Helping Someone to Write

Helping Someone to Write

Writing and recording can present difficulties for people withdisabilities. The computer can be adapted in many different ways to helpsomeone write. Adaptations to the keyboard can be made to help those with physical problems and speech output can be used bypeople with visual disabilities. Pictures andsymbols can be used to help people with learningdisabilities communicate and record their ideas. The computer can alsoprovide additional motivation for reluctant learners by helping them to produceattractive work.

As the keyboard is the most commonly used way ofwriting with a computer it is best to begin by seeing if it can be used. Changes can be made to the keyboard response tomake it easier to use. For instance,software found in the computer'sControl Panel allows the action of the keys to be changed. This can help reducethe risk of problems such as "aaaaaaaaaa" when a key is held down for too long.Other alterations can be made to provide further fine tuning.

A keyboard with lower case letters such as the Inclusive Lower Case Keyboard is often preferred for young children and those with learning difficulties. This is because most children begin learning by using this type of letter. Large key keyboards such the Big Keys LX and Jumbo Board can help younger children or those with poor fine motor skills. High contrast keyboard stickers can help people with visual difficulties and also provide temporary lower case letters.

IntelliKeys keyboards and on-screen keyboards can be used to providesimplified layouts or allow whole words and phrases to be produced with asingle press. Pictures can be used instead of words or letters.

Some word processors such as Clicker will speak letters, words and sentences as they are typed and give auditory feedback i.e. a click sound when pressed. Alternative shapes, sizes and layouts of keyboard can be plugged in as a direct alternative to the standard keyboard supplied with the computer.

Speech input systems such as Dragon Naturally Speaking are a reliable and practical way of controlling a computer and capable of translating speech directly into text. Some skill and practice is needed to use them effectively.

On-screen keyboards display an array of keys on screen which can be selected with a mouse.

Word prediction systems such as Penfriend XL: can be of help and word listscan be displayed on the screen.

With the help of specialsoftware switches can be used to enter text and control the computer.

Keyboard training
Anyone who is likely to make extensive use of a keyboard for writing could benefit from proper keyboard tuition. Keyboard training programs are available to give additional practice in skills.

Support and position
Care in providing a good working position is important, enabling the userto concentrate on their writing. A selection of wrist and arm supports (QED)can be used to give additional support.


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