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Word Prediction


Word prediction software such as Penfriend XL offers suggested words as text is entered into the computer. Usually used alongside a word processor, word prediction can help people with special educational needs in a number of ways. There are various word prediction packages for the different computer platforms.

As text is entered the prediction program will offer a list of suggested words, based on the letters entered. The prediction packages usually offer a range of options which can allow them to be tailored to suit the individual, the precise features can vary in detail from program to program.

Prediction can help in different ways:

People with physical difficulties can write with less effort as prediction can substantially reduce the number of key presses needed to write. If a switch scanning system is being used prediction can give a significant increase in speed of recording.

Users with learning difficulties can be helped by being able to choose from suggested words, enabling them to concentrate on the content of their work rather than struggling with the mechanics of spelling. Some packages such as Penfriend XP are able to predict words in context, which may be a mixed blessing for some users. Penfriend also has an on-screen keyboard.

Used with speech output a predictor can be used as a communication aid for a non-speaking individual who is using a computer.

Typical features:

Predict after a set number of key presses.
Length of words offered as suggestions.
Number of words in the suggestions list
How a word is chosen from the list, by number, point and click etc.
Dictionary of words used by the predictor - this could be topic specific.
How quickly the predictor learns new words, or not at all.
The screen position and layout of the offered list of words.
Synthetic speech to read words from the list.

The features used will depend on the user's needs and disability. A very long list of suggestions may be hard to read, some users may prefer a small dictionary of familiar words.

If the package learns new words too easily the choices offered will change frequently, and favoured words may be dropped too soon.

Time and practice may be needed before some users will benefit from prediction, as the settings of the program may need to be fully explored.

Some prediction programs:


Spell Checking, Thesaurus and Dictionary

TextHelp Read and Write

TextHELP Read & Write 8


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