2002 Conference Proceedings

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PIXWRITER: BEGINNING WRITERS LOVE SUCCESS!

James E. Slater and Jean M. Slater
Slater Software, Inc.
jim@slatersoftware.com / jean@slatersoftware.com

"I can write without really writing" said a fifth grader with severe learning disabilities when he first saw PixWriter. This software allows beginning writers to communicate through written language. Even if spelling skills, sound-symbol relationships, oral expression, or fine-motor skills are not fully developed, anyone at an emergent level of literacy can write words, sentences, stories and more. By selecting picture/word buttons that are located at the bottom of the computer screen, whole words are printed, the picture paired with that word is printed, and the word is spoken. All of the composition can be read by the computer. The vocabulary setup is easy to create and can be extensive or limited depending upon the requirements of the task and the abilities of the student. A service provider or parent fills vocabulary buttons located at the bottom of the computer screen. This vocabulary setup is then saved and presented to the child. The child writes words, sentences or complete stories by accessing the buttons using the mouse, a touch screen, keyboard, alternative keyboard, or single-switch scanning.

There are many features in the program that educators and students appreciate--the ability to import pictures and photographs from other sources, the ability to change pronunciations, different sized pictures and printing formats, choice of access methods, and flexibility of vocabulary arrangements. All these will be explained and practiced by those attending.

PixWriter is appropriate for students who have fine-motor disabilities that affect letter formation, who benefit from speech feedback during the writing process, who are helped when vocabulary is visually presented, who lack alphabet and sound-symbol relationship knowledge, who have limited word recognition skills, who use written language for communication of original thought, who have difficulty comprehending the written word, or who are just beginning to write and show an interest in print.

The versatility and ease of use of the program means that any age child or adult, who benefits from picture supported text can have literacy materials that are individually suited for them. Therapists can tailor materials to the capabilities of the students while working on teaching and refining skills. During the lab session, many setups will be shared that have been used with students with cognitive, speech/language, neurological, physical and learning disabilities. This lab is appropriate for special educators, speech/language pathologists, teachers and parents.


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