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
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
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!