NCIP Staff, 1994
Various word prediction programs are available for Apple, Macintosh, and IBM compatible computers. The usefulness of any particular program will depend on how well that program's features meet the student's individual needs.
Both Tony and Jeff use an MS-DOS word-processing program that integrates word prediction. Other word prediction programs are designed to work in conjunction with various word processing software. The following list describes additional features that distinguish different word prediction programs.
Some programs predict solely on the basis of spelling, while others also consider the words that have come before in the sentence. For example, if the word being typed follows an article like the, only nouns and adjectives will be predicted. This type of grammatical prediction can be more efficient and speed up the writing process
Some word prediction programs enable users to encode their name, assignment headings, or other language they frequently use. Once encoded, a simple keystroke combination can retrieve these messages. For example, if Jeff wants his name to appear in the text, he presses the Control key and the letter J.
Most programs can "learn" a student's vocabulary and tailor word prediction lists to that student's word usage. This way, the program is more likely to first predict words that a student most frequently uses. In some programs, lists are modified automatically, while in others, users can decide whether they want lists updated or not.
Some programs have prediction lists that appear with a set number of words in a fixed-size window in a specific location on the screen. Others allow users to customize the size, the screen location, and the amount of words in the window.
Many word prediction programs allow users to create and retrieve word lists relating to a particular topic. For example, when Jeff wrote his report on the Boston Red Sox, he and his teacher created a list of words related to baseball such as league, Chicago, and championship that he could retrieve while working on the assignment.
Many programs allow users to add suffixes or other modifications to words with a single keystroke. For example, Tony is able to change story to stories by choosing story from the word prediction list and then a special plural function from the scanning array. This feature keeps word prediction lists uncluttered by different forms of the same word.
To provide additional support for students while they write, some word prediction programs also have synthesized speech output. Because Tony's and Jeff's reading skills are somewhat limited, both rely heavily on this feature to help them monitor the structure and meaning of their work.
Some programs also include other features particularly suited to the needs of students who are physically impaired. These features include scanning arrays for switch users and a "latching" feature that allows people who type with a single finger or a pointer the option of typing two-key combinations, one key at a time. Some programs also allow the user to adjust the sensitivity of the keyboard so letters are not repeated if keys are not quickly released.
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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.
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