Word Prediction software is an important piece of technology that can assist students with special needs. This software can be installed on many major word processing systems, and is even built in on some versions of Microsoft Word. Word prediction software helps students by guessing the words that they are typing into the word processor and saving them keystrokes. Some studies claim that students can save upwards of 47% of the keystrokes they would normally be typing into the word processor, saving them time and energy.
The idea behind word prediction software is that the user can input a string of characters, and the software will guess at the possible words the student is attempting to spell. For instance, if the student wants to write the word “combustion” they could type in the string “comb” and see choices like “combo,” “combination,” and even just “comb.” At any point during typing, the student is free to choose whichever word they are trying to spell. For this particular example, it would probably make more sense for the student to input the next letter in the string, the “u,” because that would narrow the possible word choices significantly, and make it much more easy to find.
Most good word prediction software will also work phonetically, so that if the student put a “k” for the first letter, the software should be able to overlook the error. Some word prediction software, including WordQ, can correct for dyslexic spelling errors as well, where some characters may be transposed.
This software would help students with special needs because many students with learning disabilities, or students who have language difficulties, may have trouble spelling in English. This software also has applications for students with physical disabilities preventing them from typing accurately. With word prediction software, they will be better able to participate in class-wide activities, and will not struggle as much with keeping up with their typewritten homework.
Many types of word prediction software exist on the market today. WordQ is a widely recognized brand that provides not only the spelling and word prediction software, but audio feedback for the student and text-to-speech capabilities that would allow the student to hear their work read back to them by the computer. Write Assist is another similar product, and while it has less functionality, the price is significantly less. The least expensive products can cost as much as $100 for a single user license. Many schools, especially those who use a lot of technology, will have software like this already installed on school computers.