2004 Conference Proceedings

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Tracy Smith M. Ed.
P.O. Box 244023
Montgomery, AL 36124-4023
Phone: 334-244-3756
Fax: 334-244-3907

Lou Nell Gerard
Microsoft Corp.
One Microsoft Way
Redmond, WA 98052
Phone: 425-706-4307
Fax: 425-706-7329

It is the goal of all disability service providers to assist students with learning disabilities to reach their maximum potential. One way of doing that is to promote independence through the use of technology to teach them compensatory strategies to accommodate their disabilities. One of the greatest challenges of disability service providers is accommodating individuals with learning disabilities (LD). One of the most frustrating and arduous tasks for individuals with learning disabilities is spelling.

Many individuals with learning disabilities have severe spelling difficulties, phonic deficits, poor visual storage or an weak orthographic knowledge, which could cause these individuals to have spelling deficits. These types of deficits can be the most challenging for individuals with learning disabilities who are trying to express themselves in the written form. There are many factors that can effect an individual's ability to spell at an adequate level. As with other disabilities and deficits , when given the right accommodations or assistive technology, individuals can reach their maximum potential.

There are many ways that an individual with a spelling deficit can learn to compensate and learn to be more independent. Using a word processing program like MSWord can be one way in which an individual with a spelling deficit can improve spelling ability. Some features in MSWord can be used as accommodation tools that promote independence for individuals with spelling deficits. AutoCorrect, AutoText, Thesaurus, Spelling and Grammar Checker are such tools.

Another compensatory strategy is to teach individuals with spelling deficits to use low tech devices. A low tech device such as a Franklin Speaking Spell Checker (MWS-1840) can improve the spelling efficiency of an individual with a spelling deficit. The Franklin device has many attractive qualities which are cost effectiveness, portability, phonetic spell correction, grammar guide, programmable learn-a-word, and ClariSpeech that reads the word and the definitions clearly. The phonetic spell correction is a "feature that allows users to type in a word the way it sounds and receive a correction list. For example, "nolij" will find "knowledge"; "kaufee" will find "coffee" and so on." [i]

Yet another compensatory strategy is using no tech solutions. Reference books are a good example of no tech solutions. A dictionary, thesaurus, word list of commonly misspelled words, and even the phone book can be extremely helpful tools for accommodating individuals with spelling deficits. Like the low tech devices, no tech solutions have many attractive qualities as well, such as cost effectiveness, and portability. Also, in the case of the word list of commonly misspelled words, it can be tailored to the specific needs of the individual.

In this training session, participants will be given hands-on experience with MS Word and Franklin Speaking Spell Checker (MWS-1840). Participants will also learn about and be able to practice special features in MS Word such as AutoText and AutoCorrect. These features will enable users to program often-misspelled words and phrases into the software. In addition, participants will be shown how to change the settings in the Spell and Grammar Checkers. Low-tech devices like a Franklin speaking spell checker will be demonstrated as well.

The combination of these various techniques, software programs, and devices will make it easier for individuals with spelling deficits to use a word processor. Other no tech solutions to improve spelling techniques will be demonstrated as well. What the participants will learn in this training session will help them to train students to be more proficient in spelling which will improve their writing.

[i] Franklin Web Site @ http://www.franklin.com/products/glossary.asp#PhoneticSpellCorrection 

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