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purple arrowNCIP Profile: Jeff Goes to Bat with Word Prediction

Students with learning disabilities who are poor spellers often have limited writing vocabularies because they avoid words they can't spell correctly. Other students who may be more adventurous with their word choice find that spell check programs frequently do not generate appropriate choices.

By providing writers with immediate spelling assistance, word prediction can make the entire writing process less stressful for students with learning disabilities.

Meet Jeff

black and white photo of student with his teacherUsing a laptop with word prediction software, Jeff -- a high school freshman with learning disabilities -- has greatly expanded his writing vocabulary.

Jeff is an energetic high school freshman with speech and learning disabilities. Writing with a pen or pencil has always been difficult for Jeff. His grasp is awkward and his letter formation is slow and inexact. With limited spelling skills, Jeff has consciously avoided using longer words. Because of his learning disabilities, Jeff also has difficulty organizing his ideas and expressing them in complete sentences.

Throughout elementary school, Jeff relied on his resource room teachers and his parents to physically write for him. As Jeff dictated his written work, these adults often helped him translate his sometimes disorganized thoughts into coherent language. While this assistance gave Jeff the opportunity to participate in mainstream classes, it also interfered with his ability to develop independent writing skills.

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With the help of technology and good teaching, Jeff is now becoming an independent writer. To compensate for both motor and spelling difficulties, he is currently using a laptop computer with a word prediction program that offers speech feedback. Because his language skills are underdeveloped, writing is still a slow process for Jeff. With the word prediction program, however, he is now able to answer his homework questions independently and write his own letters, stories, and reports.

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At the end of the school year, Jeff's eighth grade English teacher asked her students to each choose a subject of personal interest, research it, and prepare an oral report for the class. In the past, Jeff had dreaded such assignments because of his writing and speaking difficulties. But now he had a tool -- word prediction.

Jeff carefully researched the history of the Boston Red Sox and wrote an outstanding report, full of fascinating and little-known facts. When it was Jeff's turn to read his report, he walked to the front of the class, turned on his laptop, and presented his work sentence-by-sentence through the speech synthesizer. Jeff's classmates were intrigued with the information, but even more impressed by Jeff's writing talents. [ AUDIO ]


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This material was developed by the National Center to Improve Practice (NCIP), located at Education Development Center, Inc. in Newton, Massachusetts.  NCIP was funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs from October 1, 1992 - September 30, 1998, Grant #H180N20013.  Permission is granted to copy and disseminate this information.  If you do so, please cite NCIP.   Contents do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by NCIP, EDC, or the U.S. Government.  This site was last updated in September 1998. 

ŠEducation Development Center, Inc.