2003 Conference Proceedings

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Sorting Through Word Prediction Programs

Scott Marfilius
Assistive/Instructional Technology Consultant
855 W. County Line Rd.
Bayside, WI 53217
Phone: 414-379-7779
Fax: 414-351-4274
Email: marfilius@wi.rr.com

Kelly Fonner
Assistive/Instructional Technology Consultant
1508 Dodge St.
Lake Geneva, WI 53147
Phone: 262-893-8053
Email: kfonner@earthlink.net

Word prediction allows individuals to use a software program that tries to guess what word they are trying to write. When the individual is typing their word, a list appears in a window. Once the individual sees their word in the list they usually can choose it by clicking on it or selecting the number in front of it. These programs were originally targeted to reduce the number of keystrokes an individual would have to use. Within the past few years' word prediction programs have expanded to be used with individuals with learning challenges to expand their vocabulary. Some word prediction programs now allow prediction to happen using selected vocabulary lists so the vocabulary suggested can be targeted to specific topics.

In 1998, Dr. Colin J. Laine published a paper where word prediction technology was look at and how it improved the writing of low functioning children and adults. Overall, word-prediction was associated with the improvement of the individual's writing and productivity. It was noted that word-prediction assisted in individuals written expression, primarily in the area of word finding and fluency and sometimes in word complexity. In the July/August 1998 issue of Teaching Exceptional Children, Charles MacArthur looked at the features of a simple word prediction program and how it had a strong effect on the legibility and spelling of written dialogue journal entries for most of the students in that study. He noted that a critical issue is the match between the support provided by the assistive technology and the requirements of the writing task and context. Another study suggest that word prediction programs with larger dictionaries are even more difficult for students with LD to use and only improves student's writing when the writing task requires that larger vocabulary.

There are a variety of word prediction programs that individuals can choose from. Some of them predict words based on frequency of use, phonetic prediction, grammatical prediction or alphabetical order. Others word-prediction programs provide auditory feedback. Some work transparently within any application you are using while others work in their own window before transferring the information to the word processor.

This session will go over the features of the popular word processors and will allow participants to go through a feature match process to assist in determining and sorting out which word prediction program would be appropriate for the student/client they are supporting.

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