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Writing Math
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Writing Vendors
link: IDEA Annual Report
Tech Notes


Computers can enhance students' writing abilities by offering alternative strategies to production and learning. In this module, we identify specific software features and programs to enhance writing opportunities. We have also compiled a list of vendors of software helpful to students who have difficulty writing.

As students begin the writing process, they associate sounds with the shapes of words and letters. They look to see if the words make sense and are spelled correctly. They read what they have written to themselves or aloud. When composing or revising, they look to previous sections and insert, erase, reorganize or make notes. Pens and pencils are their writing tools; legibility in written work is important.

Writing Continuum

Students with disabilities frequently require alternative ways of creating written text. A continuum of writing tools and strategies includes pencils to computers to voice input. Although low-tech options should be considered, computers offer a variety of features that can support the writing process.

Using a keyboard to write often eliminates legibility issues. Students are able to see and hear as they write with special software programs. Computers can also provide assistance with visual organization, outlining, and step-by-step direction following -- all which support the writing process.

How Computers Change the Writing Process

Electronic editing changes the writing process by separating the composition of ideas from printing the ideas on paper with ink. With a computer as a writing tool…

  • Handwriting problems disappear.
  • Proofreading is easier because text is more legible.
  • Students experience less frustration with the tool's limitations.
  • Complete re-writes are unnecessary.
  • Students produce less cramped vocabulary (and thinking) based on fear of making mistakes.
  • Spelling and mechanics can be de-emphasized and moved to the end of the writing process.
  • Organization can be dealt with easily by cutting and pasting and/or using outlining programs.

Richard Wandeman, 1990
Tips on Writing for People with Learning Disabilities

Several software programs can assist students with writing. We present them here in a series from commercial programs, most often found in elementary classrooms, to special programs designed for students with disabilities. Teachers find that many of the "special" features often promote enhanced writing in all of their students!

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